Does maintaining a diet with no carbohydrates really help decrease weight? Since the early 1970s, several weight loss plans have supported avoiding or reducing carbohydrates, referred to as “carbs”, from our diets in varying quantities. Although these carb-conscious diets are embraced by some, they continue to raise questions for many. For example, it has been debated whether it is safe to limit carbohydrate intake and whether this can be done in a healthy, sustainable way. Some carbohydrates are better or healthier than others. Another question raised is whether or not everyone should limit carbohydrates, and whether someone can eat a diet of natural foods while controlling carbohydrate consumption.
Aside from the common theories on why low-carb diets work, no agreement exists on what makes up the optimal reduced carbohydrate diet. Suggestions for the various diet plans recommend a range from 20 to 100 grams of carbohydrates daily, and few recommend no carbs at all, although this diet has been seen in Hollywood. Many of these diets advise restraining the intake of carbs such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and added sugars, but they differ in implementation and thorough directions. There are also no official guidelines on what foods should constitute a controlled carb diet, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no formal classification of low carbohydrate food.
To put the resulting mystification into perspective, keep in mind that one-size-fits-all just doesn’t work when it comes to dieting. Nutrition choices should be individualized and depend upon genetics, lifestyle, activity levels, health status, and special needs. Some experimentation may be necessary to determine what works best for you. Some may find cutting back on carbohydrates is most favorable for their health, weight, and blood sugar levels, and they decide to limit their carb intake as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
In regard to low-carbohydrate diets, you may well lose weight on this regimen because if you cut down on bread, pasta, rice, crisps and eat only meat, fish, and vegetables you will tend to eat less overall. But you are likely to get bored with this diet and therefore slip or get too hungry as your diet will lack bulk. Furthermore, limiting carbohydrates causes the body to rely on fat or muscle for energy. This can create a by-product called ketones, causing fatigue and nausea. This is particularly dangerous for anyone with diabetes, heart, or kidney problems.
Yes, there is such a thing as a healthy low-carb diet. The key is to not go overboard and throw out all the essential nutrients we need for health and optimum energy in pursuit of a low-carb eating plan. High-carb diets typically contain 50 to 60 percent of total calories from carbohydrates. A healthy low-carb plan will contain 40 to 45 percent of calories from carbohydrates. That way you keep the carbs that provide nutrition: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, milk, and yogurt and decrease your use of simple carbs like sugar, candy, cookies, soda, and snack foods.
Fresh fish is high in protein and are often carbohydrate-free. Shellfish generally contain some carbohydrates. Keep an eye out for prepared seafood products-like crab cakes or breaded fish-that may contain moderate amounts of carbohydrates. Protein-packed meat and poultry make up the bulk of many controlled carb diets. Try eating bacon, chicken, deli meats, duck, sausage, pork, lamb, rabbit, etc.
There’s also no need to stay away from nature’s sweets. Keep in mind that high fiber content in certain fruits accounts for a sizable percentage of carbohydrates. Fiber is essential for the body, and it is generally subtracted from total carbohydrates when determining “net carbs” the carbs thought to affect blood sugar and, therefore, weight loss.
Even if you are adhering to a controlled carb diet, it is important to eat plenty of produce. Colorful vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous phytochemicals. The carbohydrate content of vegetables ranges greatly. Non-starchy, brightly colored vegetables are a safe bet for those watching their carbs.