What is Low Carb Diet?
As per its name, a low carb diet is a diet that is low in carbohydrates. There are many versions of low carb diet, among the popular ones are Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet, The Dukan Diet, Protein Power, Paleolithic Diet, etc. Though these diets will have their own recommendation of foods allowed, as a general rule, a low carb diet can also be considered as high proteins and high fats diet. Normally, at least two-third of the daily calorie intake for low carb diet will be from fat sources. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, should make up less than 10%, or in some diets, less than 5% of daily calorie intake. Low carb diets will normally allow you to have lots of meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, other protein foods, as well as fats such as butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, vegetable oils, etc. However, you need to cut down starchy foods such as pasta, bread, rice and alcohol.
Carbohydrates and Weight Gain
A meal high in carbohydrate will increase the blood sugar level, which will lead to the production of insulin hormone. Insulin will lower the blood sugar by converting extra glucose into fats, which will be stored in the body. Besides that, this hormone will also stimulate the brain to produce hunger signals, and thus more carbohydrates are consumed, and the cycle repeats. After some time, the body cells will become resistant to insulin and much more insulin needs to be produced to fulfill the demand.
How Does Low Carb Diet Work?
The principle of low carb diet is that when you reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, this will lead to the reduction of insulin production and thus, less hunger. Also, when the source of carbohydrates are not available and the blood sugar levels are low, the body will release another hormone called glucagon to raise up the levels by converting stored glycogen into glucose.
When the glycogen stores are depleted, the body will switch to stored fat for energy. The fat stores are broken down into ketones, the main fuel for energy. When more fats are metabolized, the blood ketone levels will be raised, which will lead to a condition called ketosis. When the body is in the state of ketosis, a person may have symptoms like nausea, fatigue and feeling less hungry. With continuing fat burning and eating less, this will directly contribute to weight loss.
Cautions for Low Carb Diet
Though low carb diet is effective for weight loss, especially for obese people, the very high ketone levels can be dangerous. Our bodies tend to reduce the ketone levels by breathing out and expelling through urine. The prolonged high ketone levels may cause damaging to organs such as liver and kidneys.