Introduction to The Low Carb Diet
You’d be hard pressed to find any dietitian, doctor, or health professional anywhere who would agree that the typical North American diet is ideal. As a population, we tend to eat a lot of junk, mostly out of convenience but also just out of habit. We’ve become accustomed to a lot of foods that unfortunately have some negative impacts on our health, especially when eaten in excess. What most people don’t realize is that a healthy diet is tied just as closely to WHAT we eat as it is to HOW MUCH we eat. Simply reducing portion sizes isn’t going to cut it.
This is where the low carb diet comes in. Going low carb isn’t simply about cutting out bread from your diet, but understanding very clearly where all carbs come from in our diet, and making sure that we are managing our carb intake along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle including exercise and other habits for general well-being.
Why Choose the Low Carb Lifestyle?
The number of carbs in the average North American diet is much higher than what is nutritionally required, and the impacts of this kind of diet has had some drastic impacts on the general health of people. Excessive carbohydrate intake has been linked quite clearly to weight gain, but carbs also affect blood sugar and insulin levels, cholesterol, uric acid levels, blood pressure, and more. Some people experience more significant effects than others, but the implications are not something anyone should ignore.
Now, this isn’t to say we need to have a knee-jerk reaction and say that all carbs are bad. Some carbs are actually essential to maintain a healthy body, and a balanced diet needs to have some carbohydrates in it. However, the key is understanding just how many carbs are in the food we eat, and what kind of carbs they are. This way, we can develop better eating habits and begin to make healthier food choices so our bodies are getting exactly what is needed, and not loading up too much on one thing or another.
Types of Carbs
There are three main categories of carbohydrates that we need to be aware of. Each one has different characteristics, and when you begin down the path to a low carb lifestyle, you’ll understand how to manage each one through smart food choices and carb counting techniques. Here are the three types of carbs:
Sugars – Also known as simple carbohydrates, sugars are found in an extremely wide variety of foods. Sugars can either be naturally occurring, such as the sugars you’ll find in fruits or dairy, or refined sugars that have been added to foods as part of a process. Simple sugars are easily broken down and digested by the body.
Starches – Another common name for starches is complex carbohydrates, and these are found most commonly in grains like wheat and in wheat products, vegetables like potatoes, and different types of beans. Complex carbohydrates are converted during digestion in to simple carbohydrates (sugars), and so these are typically absorbed more slowly in to the body.
Fibers – Although essential to having a healthy digestive system, most of the fiber we intake is actually indigestible by the human body. Nevertheless, it is a critical part of your digestive health, keeps the body regular, and also contributes to helping you feel full when you’ve eaten enough.
It’s important for beginners to the low carb diet to start paying closer attention to the nutrition labels of the foods they eat and taking note of the amount of these three carbohydrates. The amount of carbs you’ll find in some common products may surprise you, as there are often more than you’d expect. For example, most people would agree that fresh mangos or some ripe cherries would be a great healthy snack, but they are fruits that contain some of the highest counts of sugar, and so should be eaten on a low carb diet only in careful moderation.
Different Low Carb Diets
While we won’t go in to the detailed specifics of each type of diet plan here, and you should always consult your doctor before starting any new diet plan, there are several popular low carb diets that you may consider if you feel that this may be right for you.
Here are some of the common plans that low carb dieters are following:
The Atkins Diet – You’ve probably heard of this one. The most commonly known low carb diet, the Atkins Diet focuses on restricting carb intake and switching the body’s metabolism to burn more stored fat instead of glucose.
The Dukan Diet – This diet takes a slightly different approach and advises a more moderate approach to carb restrictions as well as moderation of fat intake. This diet consists of four phases to gradually adjust carb intake.
Dr. Poon’s Metabolic Diet – Focusing on low carb, low sodium, and moderate fat intake, this diet was created with the goal of achieving weight loss to ease the effects of medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
The G.I Diet – Also known as the Glycemic Index Diet, this diet categorizes carbs by how quickly they are digested by the body and how fast they increase blood glucose. It recommends which foods to reduce, or cut out entirely to achieve weight loss.
Check out our full list of different low carb diets here.
Success on the Low Carb Diet
Many people have achieved their health goals through a low carb diet. Whether for weight loss, easing the effects of diabetes, or combating high blood pressure, there are inspirational stories from around the globe that show the difference a low carb lifestyle can make. Simply check out our extensive collection of customer success stories for examples on what our very own customers have achieved with their diets.
If you think the low carb diet might be right for you, talk to your doctor and start taking steps down the path to a healthier and happier future.
We look forward to serving you soon!