For those who are just starting a low-carb diet, it is helpful to know that low-carb diets are just as effective as low-fat and low-calorie diets. The low-carb diet enthusiasm has been waxing and waning over the years as its effectiveness as well as some disadvantages have been revealed through studies. The following is everything you should know about the low-carb diet as well as some tips on how to get started.
Low-carb diet is essentially a diet that limits the intake of carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, grains and starchy vegetables and fruit. These food sources are replaced with foods that are high in protein and fat content, such as meat. The most popular forms of low-carb diet are Atkins and Zone. The purpose of a low-carb diet is to lose weight and maintain figure. But the defining difference between healthy low-carb diets with programs such as Atkins is that Atkins is a no-carb diet. It helps to remember that the healthiest and most effective choice in choosing a diet that’ll assist in weight loss while providing you with a balanced nutritional intake is choosing good carbs, not no carbs.
A carbohydrate is essentially a molecule of sugar that comes about when carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are fused. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates are in a form of fructose, dextrose/glucose or sucrose; when these three sugars are linked, they turn into complex carbohydrates. Examples of complex carbs are white bread and French fries. When carbohydrates, whether they are in single molecule form or complex, enter the body, they get broken down into glucose, which is the body’s source of energy.
For people who are sensitive to carbohydrate intake due to blood sugar related diseases, the glycemic index should be consulted regularly to ensure that foods that rank highly on the index, such as white bread, are substituted with low glycemic index foods such as oats. High glycemic index foods have been linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, infertility and cancer.
Be sure to use the glycemic index as a guide, not strictly a rulebook. Some foods, such as candy bars, fall on the lower rank of the glycemic index, yet they are not considered health foods.
The Atkins diet cuts out carbs completely and replaces them with foods that are high in fat and fiber. The Zone diet provides foods that liken typical comfort foods made from carbs, except that the carbs have been replaced with protein-high substances.
Besides Atkins and Zone, a popular low-carb diet that’s been gaining mainstream momentum is the gluten-free diet. It is generally for people who have wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity. There are gluten-free food items available such as gluten-free buns, gluten-free beer, wheat-free cookies, and even low-gluten altar bread.
A recent news story revealed that doctors are approaching the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease in the same way they would approach heart disease, where patients are ordered to reduce the level of carb intake over a nine-week period. The idea is that the source of plaque buildup in the brain is carbs, which produce insulin, a cause for tissue inflammation, specifically the brain.
Diets that remove entire food groups from people have been shown to cause long term health risks such as heart disease and cancer, as well as hurting cognitive abilities and causing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, a publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that women who took on the Atkins diet showed the most rapid weight regain out of all the other diet plan groups (Zone, LEARN and Ornish).
The key is to remember that carbohydrates are in foods other than just bread, pasta and grains. They are in fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes. When planning your diet, the most important thing to ask yourself is what your primary motivation is. Is it weight loss or adopting a healthy, long-term eating habit?
Believe it or not, there are such things as good carbs that can prevent diseases. Where as easily digestible carbs, such as bread and pastries made from bleached flour, sugary sodas and processed foods, have a high glycemic index and cause weight gain, whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are high in nutritional value, good sources of energy and can assist in weight loss in controlled portions.
For your health and weight control purposes, replace potatoes with brown rice, bulgur, wheat berries or millet. If you crave pasta or bread, go with whole wheat. Beans and whole grains are also healthy carb choices.
With the energy you get from these healthy food sources, be sure to exercise or at the very least increase your physical activity. A simple way to do that is to walk a lot.