Low Carb Diets and Weight Loss
Low carb diets are difficult for most, but have worked wonders for many. The best example is the Atkins Nutritional Approach. It’s considered extreme by many, when compared to other low carbohydrate diets, such as the South Beach Diet. Atkin’s induction phase, for example, allows only 20 carbs per day.
What’s Wrong With Carbs?
Here’s the quick lesson. Carbohydrates, especially refined carbs, such as sugar and white flour, cause a spike in your blood sugar, causing insulin to rush into your veins. This lowers your blood sugar, giving you the “sugar blues”, and causing you to crave more carbs. The excess insulin causes you to retain salt and water, which is bad for your health, but that’s not even the main concern.
Insulin, a powerful hormone, carries glucose (blood sugar) from your blood to your cells, for conversion into energy. You liver converts excess glucose into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles for additional energy. The remaining glucose is then converted to fat and stored throughout your body.
The problem here is that excess carbohydrate intake results in too much glucose, which cause too much insulin production, and eventually hyperinsulinism. This is a condition that makes it very hard to lose weight, and can lead to diabetes as well.
The Low Carb Solution
Weight loss with a low carb diet is achieved by stabilizing insulin production. This is done by restricting carbohydrates, and eating complex carbs that are digested and converted to glucose more slowly. Initially, you are encouraged to severely restrict carbohydrates, which causes the body to burn fat for energy, a process called ketosis or lipolysis.
Later, you add back foods that have more carbs, as long as they have a low “glycemic index” number. The glycemic index is just a way of measuring how fast various foods are converted to glucose in the body. A low number (apple: 36, lentils:29) is better than a high one (white rice: 88, baked potato: 85).
Will It Work For You?
How many pork rinds and eggs can you eat in a day? This is the biggest reason people fail on these diets: not enough things to eat. Low carb diets work for most of those who can follow them, but being able to follow a diet is the biggest problem with all of them, right? There are more low carbohydrate products coming all the time, so maybe Atkins and other low carb diets will become easier to use with time.