Low-Carb Diet – Pros & Cons
Many people who want to adopt a healthier eating lifestyle in order to lose weight are usually dealt with the “you should try a low-carb diet” remark. But what does it mean? And does it really help with weight loss?
Studies show that a low-carb diet is effective for weight loss and the general well-being of one’s health. However, it is important to note that there are many different types of low-carb diets. Each type of diet varies in terms of how many carbohydrates you are allowed to consume. You should factor in your lifestyle when considering a low-carb diet.
Your Body Needs Its Carbohydrates
Before we get into the details of the pros and cons of switching to a low-carb diet, let’s take a quick moment to appreciate carbohydrates. The goal here is to limit their intake. Not to do away with them altogether.
Proteins and fats may be energy foods, but the human body typically prefers carbohydrates as fuel – especially your muscles and brain. When your body begins to run low on carbohydrates and is not topped up by your diet, it begins to use stored fat as fuel.This process is called ketosis, and it is responsible for the weight loss you experience when following a low-carb diet.
The Pros of a Low-carb Diet:
Increase in Energy Levels
Consuming a carb-rich diet causes your body’s blood sugar levels to fluctuate dramatically. It goes from being high to low in a matter of minutes. Limiting carb intake allows your blood sugar levels to stabilize. Over time, you will notice an increase in your overall energy levels. With a low-carb diet, you can now bid goodbye to post-lunch afternoon crashes.
You No Longer Want to Overeat
The thing about a carb-rich diet is that it begs for a refuel ever so often. This causes us to keep eating more food in order to top up our body’s carb cravings. By switching to a low-carb diet, your body feels fuller for longer, thereby eliminating unnecessary cravings.
You Feel Less Bloated
Carbohydrates are known to cause water retention in the human body. When you cut down on carbs, you replace carbohydrates with fats and proteins. The latter two help your body shed excess water readily, which in turn helps your body feel less bloated.
It Is Healthier Than Counting Calories
Cutting down on calories may help you lose weight quickly, but it isn’t healthy. Your body needs some amount of carbohydrates to sustain itself. A low-carb diet allows your body to receive the nourishment it needs without overindulging it.
Your Workouts Have More Impact
Let’s do away with the misconception that your body needs lots of carbs to sustain itself through rigorous workout sessions. Body fat alone contains enough calories, which are burned during exercise. Following a low-carb diet will leave room for your body’s fat to be burned off while you work out, thereby resulting in effective and quick weight loss.
You Can Choose From Many Low-carb Diets
Depending on your lifestyle, you can opt for the typical low-carb diet. It involves consuming about 100-150 grams of carbohydrates for weight maintenance or high-intensity exercises, 50-100 grams if you are aiming for a slow and steady weight loss, and under 50 grams if you are working towards fast weight loss.
The low-carb diet umbrella also covers the ketogenic diet, low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF), low-carb paleo diet, Atkin diet, Eco-Atkins diet, or the low-carb Mediterranean diet.
A low-carb diet is also known to result in health benefits such as reduced blood sugar levels, better bowel movement, reduced sugar cravings, fewer migraines, and a much healthier heart.
The Cons of a Low-carb Diet:
Your Body Enters a State of Ketosis
Most low-carb diets usually involve your body going into a state of ketosis. Here, your body begins to run on stored fat instead of carbohydrates (which is its preferred energy fuel). While burning fat may be helpful for weight loss, it can become harmful to your overall health, especially if you lead a physically active lifestyle and don’t supply your body with enough carbohydrates.
A Number of Possible Side Effects
Other less serious effects of a low-carb diet include tiredness, bad breath, lethargy, headaches, and muscle cramps.
The Long Term Effects of Keeping Your Body in Ketosis Mode
Overdoing the low-carbs diet has long-term effects on the human body. Keeping your body in a ketogenic state for a long time increases the risk of health implications such as an abnormal heartbeat, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, or kidney damage.
Some low-carbs diets limit the intake of fruits, legumes, and healthy whole grains, and that isn’t ideal.
Some Factors to Think About When Considering a Low-carb Diet
Consider your age and your physical activity levels before you take up any low-carb diets. We say this because replacing carbohydrates with excessive protein as a middle-aged person, can result in diabetes or even increase your chances of ill health.
It is advisable that you also not force a low-carbs diet on a pre-teen. Their growing bodies need the nutrients found in some whole grains, vegetables, and fruits restricted in a low-carbs diet.
It is also important for you to know that not all carbs are created equal. Processed carbs such as white flour and white sugar fall under the ‘simple carbs’ category. If you’re a beginner, reduce your intake of these foods. However, other ‘simple carbs’ foods such as fruits provide your body with essential nutrients and are good for you. Complex carbs take longer to digest. They are typically present in whole grains, beans, and fiber-rich fruits.