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As its name implies, a low-carb diet is one that focuses on decreasing the amount of carbohydrates you consume through your day. This is a diet that the majority of people can do without complications or health risks, except for people taking medicine for blood related deceases such as diabetes or high pressure; and women going through pregnancy or breastfeeding.
A low-carb diet has many health benefits, which are also aligned to your fitness goals. Among others, some of the benefits are losing weight, reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, reduce sugar cravings and improve mental clarity. Low-carb diets, especially very low-carb diets, may lead to greater short-term weight loss than do low-fat diets.
A diet low on carbohydrates has five very easy rules you need to follow, with the simple principle of staying away from food with high carbohydrate content. These rules are:
Keeping up with proteins and fats
As you will be consuming fewer carbohydrates, you’ll need to increase the amount of proteins and fats in your diet to make sure you are giving your body enough nutrients and energy to function. However, you must not eat too much of them. Eating a lot of proteins and meat from lean animals, you can end up eating too much of it. When you eat more protein than your body needs, some of its amino acids will be turned into glucose via a process called gluconeogenesis. To avoid this from happening, the recommended daily amount is 0.7–0.9 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.5–2.0 grams per kg).
When it comes to fats, what tends to happen is the opposite of protein, with people being afraid of them and not eating enough foods with healthy fats. As you don’t eat carbohydrates, you need to eats fats to provide your body with the energy it needs to function. It would be important to choose healthy fats like omega-3 and monounsaturated fats that make up to 70% of your daily calorie intake.
Blood sugar levels
It is not rare to find out that, when you are on a diet low on carbohydrates, some ways of measuring blood sugar will not provide you with “normal” levels. Fasting blood sugar levels may be slightly above normal because your liver is making extra glucose to prepare your body for the day, so keep this in mind but always consult with your doctor the details of your diet and any anomalies you find.
What to eat?
What to avoid?
But how does this look in practice? We show you how your meals could look like:
Skipping breakfast is also an option. On a low-carb, high-fat diet you’re likely not as hungry and you don’t need to eat as often. Skipping breakfast is perfectly fine if you’re not hungry. Perhaps you’ll only have a cup of coffee.
Lunch and dinner
Dairy Products and Eggs Are Low in Carbs
Eggs and dairy products that contain no added sugar are perfect for this diet if you are a vegetarian (not vegan), as they low in what we don’t want (carbs), and high in what we want (protein and fats).
These foods are also rich in vitamin B12, which is not found in plant foods. Vegetarians can get all the B12 they need from these foods, while vegans need to supplement.
Low-Carb Friendly Plant Foods (For Both Vegetarians and Vegans)
Vegan can also do low-carb diets are there are lots of ingredients they can use and that are also high in protein and fat.
Read more about plant-based proteins here.
Diets low on carbohydrates are only recommended during a short period of time, as it can result in significant weight-loss that would be useful for your summer holiday, a fitness competition or a photo shoot. But it raises concerns when people try to continue it for a longer period of time, from months to years. Complications such as heart functioning problems, sudden death, osteoporosis, kidney damage, increased risk of cancer, impairment of physical activity and lipid abnormalities can all be linked to long-term restriction of carbohydrates in the diet.
Other common issues on low-card diet are leg cramps, constipation, bad breath, reduced physical performance and low tolerance to alcohol.
In summary, a typical low-carb diet is much lower in carbs and higher in protein than a regular diet. It helps to lose weight given the fact that the body is consuming fewer calories overall and, more specifically, less carbohydrates. It is not recommended to maintain for months or too long periods of time, but consistency is the key to succeed, choosing the ingredients and sticking to them every day. When doing responsible a diet low on carbohydrates is good to lose weight and live with a more balanced nutrition, with additional benefits such as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, reduce sugar cravings and improve mental clarity.