A low carb diet involves eating foods that contain less carbohydrates (sugar, starches and fiber). To stay on track with this lifestyle choice, use an app like Food Diary to track your food consumption or visit nutrition websites regularly to monitor intake.
Reducing carb intake may reduce fiber consumption and may contribute to constipation, as well as decrease key nutrients like folic acid.
According to popular belief, cutting carbohydrates doesn’t automatically lead to weight loss. You still require enough calories in order to drop pounds or maintain current levels, and eating balanced meals that include proteins, fats, carbs and fiber is one effective way of doing just this.
Studies have demonstrated that low carb diets can be just as effective – or sometimes more so – than traditional low-fat, calorie-restricted diets for weight loss. They often improve other aspects of health including blood sugar and triglyceride levels regardless of weight loss.
To ensure you’re receiving enough calories, make sure you include healthy fats like olive oil and butter in your diet. These will help satisfy you while curbing cravings for foods that overactivate food reward centers (like macadamia nuts). Incorporating carbohydrates from whole, unprocessed vegetables and low-glycemic fruits gradually is also allowed; consult your healthcare provider when initiating this phase.
Diets that limit carbs may also lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. One study demonstrated how such diets helped to lower total and HDL cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides.
But like any restrictive diet, keto can lead to nutritional deficiencies. When cutting out whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fortified grains as sources of folic acid (which is essential during pregnancy and everyday), you are forgoing an important source of folic acid for overall good health and vitality.
To reduce this potential problem, make sure your diet includes plenty of fiber and potassium-rich foods like olive oil, avocados and nuts – not saturated fats like butter – since unsaturated fats such as these may help lower cholesterol levels (though always consult with a healthcare provider first before making this change). This can be especially useful if you already have heart disease or family history of it.
Blood Sugar Control
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is key to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions, like cardiovascular disease. A low carb diet reduces your carb intake to encourage your body to use fat as its energy source instead of glucose as fuel source.
Complex carbohydrates are digested into simple sugars known as blood glucose. Insulin then helps the glucose enter cells where it can be utilized as energy; any excess is stored as body fat. A low-carb diet encourages burning stored fat for energy production instead of simply storing it, leading to weight loss and improved blood glucose levels.
Starting a low-carb diet slowly is key for minimizing unpleasant side effects like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) according to the Mayo Clinic, including headache, changes in mood and feelings of weakness or dizziness; constipation or diarrhea are also possible side effects; an experienced dietitian nutritionist can help adjust your food intake to avoid such side effects.
Low carb diets may not only benefit your physical wellbeing, but they may also be good for your mental wellbeing. Modern Western diets contain too many refined carbohydrates and seed oils that contribute to caloric over-consumption, metabolic disease and mental health conditions like depression.
Our bodies require glucose, produced when we eat carbohydrates, to function. But fats also provide energy which produces ketones – fuel for our brain cells.
Ketogenic and low carb diets have been demonstrated to positively impact mental health by decreasing depression, anxiety and mood swings. Ketogenic diets may even provide an alternative means of balancing neurotransmitter levels within the brain than pharmaceutical anti-depressants do – potentially decreasing their need.