Low Carb Foods
There is more interest than ever before in Low Carb Foods, due mainly to the publicity surrounding the Atkins low carbs diet. Low carbs diets are not a craze or fad and as proved by numerous independent research studies the Atkins diet is effective in promoting weight loss and is healthy. In essence a low carbs diet requires you to significantly reduce your intake of carbohydrates.
Even though eating low carbs can help you lose weight, low carbs diets are not for everyone. Before deciding to cut out the carbs its worth understanding the pros and cons first.
First of all, we need to define what Low Carb Food is – it is not simply (as name suggests) food which contains low quantities of carbohydrates (or carbs). You need to understand the term carbs is used to describe a vast group of food ingredients – from sugars (or simple carbs) to complex carbs (like starch and cellulose). Basically, the simple carbs are also called “bad carbs” – they are the ones to avoid on low carbs diet, while the complex or “good” carbs can also be ingested while on low carbs diet.
Ever heard of the term Glycemic Index or GI? This is used to describe how fast a certain type of carbs can be reduced to simple carbs (or sugars), absorbed in the blood stream and thus raise the insulin level in our bodies – the healthy body response to high blood sugar level. When this happens, our blood is sugar rich – the excess sugar either needs to be burnt (by exercising) or it is turned into fat. When on a diet to loose weight, we of course do not want this to happen. The high GI food (sugar, white bread, white rice, potatoes, etc.) quickly raises the sugar level in our blood, which our bodies need to expel by turning it into extra fat. The low GI food (barley, bran, oats, wholegrain bread, all fruits and vegetables except potatoes, etc.) on the other hand contain complex carbohydrates, for which our body needs long time (and considerable effort) to digest. The sugar is slowly absorbed in blood, its level is not raised quickly and substantially and as a consequence of this slow process it is not turned into fat. This is why low GI food is called good carbs and high GI food is called bad carbs.
Also, you need to consider the fact carbohydrates are an important food group, so while the goal of a low carbs diet is to reduce intake of carbs, you must not completely exclude carbs from your diet – you must leave room for some carbs – the carbs budget. This is where the Glycemic Index – GI – becomes important: reduce the intake of high GI foods (sugar, potatoes, sweets, white bread), but do consume enough low GI foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, etc.) to fill your carbs intake budget.
Even though eating low carbs can help you lose weight, low carbs diets are not for everyone. Before deciding to cut out the carbs it is worth understanding the pros and cons first.
Eating a low carbs diet, such as Atkins, will encourage quick weight loss without restricting calories. As well as weight loss, low carbs diets, can also provide many health benefits. People on low carb diets have reported lower cholesterol, increased energy, reduced sugar cravings, reduced appetite and better concentration.
Low carbs diets don’t require you to exercise everyday or count calories – you can eat food that makes you feel full and enjoy rich foods such as meats, dairy and oils.
However, people eating low carb foods do find they hit a plateau where their weight loss slows or stops; it takes a lot of effort to get past this stage and continue losing weight. Also, some people find it difficult to go without carbs and feel they are ‘missing out’ on their favorite foods . These people stick to the diet for a while, but are unable to sustain their will power and soon go back to their old ways and the weight is put back on.
If you decide to do a low carbs diet, you need motivation to continue the diet for a reasonable period of time. If you decide to eat carbs again, try to re-introduce them slowly and don’t go back to the same levels as before – this way your weight will stay off.
Overall the positives outweigh the negatives and time and time again we hear of fantastic weight loss stories from people on low carbs diets. Thousands and thousands of people are enjoying the benefits of eating low carb foods!
Remember: reduce carbs intake, but do not completely eliminate them – only eliminate high GI carbs, but do consume some low GI carbs and most importantly: do not reduce fruit and vegetables intake (except potatoes).