Losing weight is not as easy as gaining weight. Some people tend to become sickly and weak after following a specific diet regimen. Not with a low-carb diet. You can lose weight with fewer side effects. Plus, you can get a healthier and stronger body.
These diets have been used for many years and are highly recommended by many doctors — no need to count calories or use unique products. You just need to eat whole foods that are complete, filling, and nutritious diet.
What is low carb?
As the term implies, a low-carb diet means consuming fewer carbohydrates and taking more fats(1). It is also referred to as a keto diet or low carb, high-fat diet.
There is a wrong notion that fats pose a risk to our health. And because of this, there are lots of low-fat diet products that swarm the market. This misconception has resulted in obesity epidemic. Although it was not proven that it is the leading cause of such a condition, it is clear that the low-fat campaign to stop obesity is not the solution.
Several studies have been conducted to prove that fat is not the culprit. In a low-carb diet, fat is not the antagonist but your friend(2). To help healthily lower your weight, you need to reduce your starches and sugar intake. By doing this, you can get the body that you want and can eat all the fat you are craving for.
Minimizing your starches and sugar intake can help keep your blood sugar at the right levels, and your fat-storing hormone known as insulin will drop. As a result, fats are burned, and they will make you feel more satisfied. Therefore, your craving for food is reduced, and it will eventually cause weight loss.
One of the essential benefits of a low carb diet is that it is much easier to lose weight and control your blood sugar.
Basics: What to Eat and What to Avoid
If you are under a low carb diet, you don’t need to make all those sacrifices, like you should not eat after 6 PM, or restrict your calories, or you have to measure your food.
You can eat if you are hungry and stop if you are satisfied — that is simple. The important thing here is that you know the basics – what to eat and what to avoid.
Some of the foods that you can consume while under a low carb diet are fish, meat, eggs, and veggies growing above the ground, organic fats.
The food you need to avoid is sugar, as well as starchy foods such as beans, bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta.
Your food choices will depend on several factors like how healthy you are, how much weight you need to lose, and your workout regimen.
These factors may significantly affect the outcome of your diet.
What to Eat
No need to make a drastic change in your diet, what you need to do is to know how much of the digestible carb you can take. For fiber, there is no need to limit it. You can consume all the low carb fiber supplements you want.
The foods enumerated below contains 5% and less carbs. It is much easier to stay on a low-carb diet if you stick to these foods. If you stick with the foods mentioned below, staying on a low-carb diet is much easier. You will only take around 20 grams of carbs daily(3).
Here is the list of the food you can eat if you are under low-carb diet:
- Meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and others. If you can find grass-fed meat sources, then much better.
- Fish – like trout, haddock, salmon, and others. Wild-caught fish is highly recommended.
- Eggs – choose the pastured or omega-3 enriched eggs.
- Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and others
- Fats and oils such as lard, fish oil, coconut oil and butter
- Fruits including oranges, blueberries, apples, pears, strawberries
- Veggies like broccoli, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, and others
- High-fat dairy like butter, yogurt, cheese, heavy cream
Be careful with nuts and cheese, particularly if you want to lose weight as you tend to overeat on them. Make sure also that you eat one piece of fruit a day.
What to Drink
Water is the best beverage if you are on a low-carb diet(4). You can also drink tea or coffee without sweeteners.
You can add some cream or milk in your tea or coffee, but stay away from caffe latte.
Drinking a glass of wine occasionally is also allowed.
Some people think that it is safe to drink diet soft drinks as it does not contain carbs or calories. These types of drinks contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, stevia, aspartame, or acesulfame K. Unknown to many people, these sweeteners are associated with other health problems.
Artificial sweeteners maintain sugar cravings, which is not good if you love sweet foods. It will be hard for you to appreciate the natural sweetness of food.
Several studies prove that drinking water instead of diet soda could result in weight loss(5) since diet drinks may tend to increase insulin levels.
Below is a comprehensive list of the number of carbs present in drinks:
- Water – 0
- Tea – 0
- Coffee – 0 (if you add milk it may contain around 1-3 grams of carbs)
- Coconut water – 9 grams
- Wine – 2 grams
- Milk – 11 grams
- Caffe Latte – 15 grams
- Soy Milk – 12 grams
- Orange juice – 26 grams
- Vitamin water – 32 grams
- Ice Tea – 32 grams
- Smoothie – 36 grams
- Milkshake – 60 grams
- Soft drink – 39 grams
- Energy drink – 28 grams
What to Avoid
You should stay away from foods that contain a considerable amount of sugar and starch as these foods contain a vast amount of carbs.
You should avoid the following food groups and nutrients:
- Sugar – fruit juices, ice cream, soft drinks, candy, agave, and several other products with added sugar.
- Trans fats – partially or hydrogenated oils.
- Refined grains – barley and rye, cereal, pasta, bread, rice, and wheat.
- Diet and low-fat products – several dairy products, crackers or cereals are low in fat but contain some sugar.
- Processed foods – if it is made in a factory, stay away from it.
- Starchy veggies – if you are into a very low-carb diet, make sure the starchy vegetables are limited.
Who Should NOT Do a Strict Low-Carb Diet?
Any individual who wants to try a low-carb diet can do so, except for the following groups:
- Under the medication for diabetes
- If you are taking high blood pressure medicines
- If you are breastfeeding.
If you don’t belong to any of these groups, then you can start with your low carb diet.
What are the Health Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet?
You would surely know what you can get from following a low-carb diet. There are lots of potential benefits that you can enjoy. These benefits are backed by science and supported by clinical experience. Some of them are as follows:
As compared to other diet regimens, a low carb diet is safer and more effective. Most people who want to lose weight are consuming fewer carbs.
By following this diet, you can lose weight without the need to starve yourself and to count the calories.
According to studies, a low-carb diet can help you burn more calories(6). But, for some individuals, they are following a low-carb diet because of the powerful health effects.
Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
The diet can help to lower or even normalize blood sugar, and the possibility of reversing type 2 diabetes.
For those with type 1 diabetes, the low carb diet is also very helpful(7) in managing it.
Keeps Gut Healthy
Having a low carb diet can help a grumpy gut(8). The diet helps reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome-like diarrhea, pain, bloating, gas, and cramps.
Other stomach problems like reflux, indigestion, and other digestive issues can be improved.
Some people think that this is the best benefit of following a low carb diet since the face can take place within a few days, or during the first week of applying the diet.
Reduce Sugar Cravings
You want to stay away from sweets but are having a hard time? Having a low carb diet can reduce your sugar cravings(9), and sometimes you can eliminate cravings for sweets.
Some people have experienced other benefits from having a low carb diet. Others are very significant that it changed their life completely. There are reports that the diet can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk factors for heart disease.
Other additional benefits include better skin and less acne, improved mental health symptoms, fewer migraines, better fertility, and more.
Side Effects on a Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb diet may result in different ways. You can get a moderate reduction in carbs if you lose 100 to 150 grams in a day. This will not provide noticeable side effects. Sometimes, you may feel fatigued for a few days. A considerable reduction of carbs could leads to more significant side effects like
- Change in bowel movement – either diarrhea or constipation
However, people these days are not just going low-carb. Many of them are going very low-carb. The keto diet is one of the widely used diets these days, particularly in losing weight. It is also used for increasing energy, help control blood sugar, and improved heart health. Aside from the side effects mentioned above, you may also experience the following:
- Reduced exercise tolerance
These side effects are also known as keto flu(10). Although not a medical diagnosis or similar to the actual flu, it can even knock you out for several days to a week.
There are some severe side effects that you need to focus on, some of which are as follows:
After the first day of following the diet, you will notice that you urinate more than before. Its because your body burns extra glycogen in your muscles and liver. The glycogen breakdown releases lots of water(11). Since your carb consumption and glycogen storage drops, your kidneys will dump this excess water.
Also, as your insulin level drops, your kidneys start to excrete excess sodium, which could lead to frequent urination.
Fatigue and Dizziness
As you begin to release water, you will also lose minerals like magnesium, potassium, and salt. If you have a low level of these minerals, you will feel exhausted, dizzy, headache, gives you muscle cramps, skin itchiness, and others.
You can avoid such side effects by making sure you stay ahead of the mineral loss. Eating more salt or having salty in a day with potassium-rich foods can help. Some foods that are high in potassium include dairy foods, avocados, and green leafy veggies.
If you are losing 60 carbs a day, you need to eat a moderate amount of salt equivalent to 5 grams per day(12). However, if you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, you need to talk to your doctor first.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I stop my low-carb diet and return to my usual eating habits, can I regain weight fast? Can the diet cause carb intolerance?
If you follow low-carb diets, you may tend to lose more weight as compared to other diets. So, it is just logical that if people return to their usual diet, they might regain more. It is leaping into a more significant step in the wrong path than using other diets.
There is no report or study that can prove that eating low carb and stopping can result in carb intolerance.
Is a low-carb diet safe for individuals with type 2 diabetes?
Yes. Those with type 2 diabetes have difficulties in controlling sugar in the body. The pancreas generates more hormone insulin to move sugar out of the blood as well as in the body cells. More insulin may be needed, which leads to a vicious cycle that results in insulin resistance and as a result, high insulin.
If you follow a low-carb diet, your blood sugar level will be reduced, as well as your need for insulin hormone and medication.
If you are thinking of having a low-carb diet, consult your doctor or a nutritionist to check if it is okay for you. This diet can help you lose weight safely and healthier. Keep in mind, weight loss that lasts will be based on changes you can live with for many years and not just a temporary diet.