Made famous by a certain Doctor and his best selling books. Here is the lowdown on the low carb diet.
A brief history lesson…
A low carb diet was first documented as being used for weight loss in 1862. A Doctor (not Atkins) used it to treat a patient for an illness caused by obesity. There have been many reincarnations of it since but none have caught on like Dr Atkins.
Despite many of Dr Atkins peers at the time who disagreed if a low carb diet would work he went ahead and found that it did. He first published these findings in 1972. Twenty three years and 10 million selling diet books later, the techniques are still being used today.
How you do the low carb diet
Simply eat low carb foods instead of high ones. Low carb foods include red meat, poultry, salads, fish and cheese. High are breads, pasta, rice and cereals. See individual labels on foods and add the daily total.
- Weeks 1 & 2 – Limit carb intake to 20 grams per day
- Weeks 3 to Desired Weight – Add 5 to 10 grams to the daily total per week. Ensure your weight is always decreasing and lower the daily amount if it isn’t.
- Desired Weight to Lifetime – Desired weight is now achieved so increase the final daily total by 5 grams. Then monitor your weight, if it starts to rise slightly decrease the daily total. If it starts to fall increase daily amount. You should end up with an exact number of grams of carbs you can eat each day where your weight doesn’t change. This is the “lifetime” amount.
How the the low carb diet works is not fully known and has resulted in two main theories. First is that low carb foods tend to be low in calories and it is the lower calorie intake that causes the weight loss. Second is that the level of insulin in the blood dictates how much fat is stored. Eating less carbs is said to lower the amount of insulin in the blood so the body is less inclined to store fat.
Lack of carbs in the body
The main function of carbohydrate in the body is to provide energy. When the body is short on supply it will find an alternative source. This will be from the extra fat and protein you eat to replace the carbs or if there is a calorie deficit, your body will use it’s fat stores. Many people report headaches and other symptoms in the early stages and this adjustment could be the reason.
A diet high in fats and protein has it’s own health risks. A high fat diet is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Stephen Barrett M.D.) Too much of something is never a good thing and protein doesn’t escape either. An excess has been linked to potential kidney, bone and liver problems. (Web MD)
The low carb diet overall
The low carb diet will make you lose weight and it’s not due to fluid loss (your body adjusts by making you feel thirsty). However the problem is the body simply needs carbohydrate. Evolution still expects us to be physically active and carbs are our main source of energy.
We don’t need to forget the low carb diet approach entirely but there are now better alternatives. These include the South Beach diet and the GI diet where certain carbs are allowed and/or slowly re-introduced. These modern versions are much better nutritionally. Overall do look at the original low carb idea but move on when it comes to a long term plan.
By Simon Gould – taken from http://www.FitnessBegin.com/ – the well-being resource.