Low carb diet plans are still a popular and
effective but somewhat controversial option when dieting for weight loss. As the title suggests, foods containing carbs
are limited or excluded and emphasis is placed on dietary protein and fats.
Similar to the Atkins and Ketogenic diet It is believed that by limiting this easily metabolised energy source the body is forced to burn fats, not something it normally prefers to do. Many types of low-carb diets exist, each with varying restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat.
Standard dietary guidelines recommend carbohydrates make up between 45
and 65% of daily calorie intake, primarily because in natural form
(unprocessed) they are the source of many essential nutrients and are an
excellent source of energy. It is important to note that not all carbs are
created equal, which is where the glycemic index (GI) comes into play.
The GI is a way of comparing different carbs by ranking their effect on blood sugar levels. Most responsible low carb diets should aim for at least 40%, although some follow the formula of 45% protein, 25% carbs and 30% fat. What ever ratio you choose to follow, select the carbohydrates you do include carefully and avoid empty calories. Whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables are essential.
Recent research has indicated some alarming risks associated with following low carb diet plans, in particular the high intake of saturated fats and the adverse effects this may have on the cardiovascular system.
Despite its success at shedding weight quickly, extreme caution is urged and any benefits may be at the expense of your health.
Aim to avoid saturated fats where possible by choosing lean meat and healthy fats such as monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-3.
Nutritional and biological background information should always be examined when planning a diet to suit your personal needs. The term ‘carbs’ encompasses a huge variety of foods containing sugars, fibres and starches; including grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables as well as things like soft drinks, juices and candy.
Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose,
protein into amino acids and fats into fatty acids – and at different rates.
The metabolism of glucose is the complicated part. When digested glucose enters the blood stream it raises blood sugar (glucose) levels. This rise triggers the release of insulin which is the hormone responsible for making cells absorb blood sugar for storage or energy. As the cells absorb the blood sugar, levels start to drop.
Decreasing carbs results in lower insulin levels which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately helps you lose excess weight and reduce risk factors for a variety of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Much debate exists regarding effectiveness of low carb diets, but certainly restricting the intake of processed sugars and starches will have a positive effect for anyone seeking weight loss and an overall improvement in health.
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