Low Carbohydrate Diet - Pros and Cons
Low Carbohydrate Pyramid
Low Carbohydrate Foods
Is a low carbohydrate effective and is it a healthy diet choice? A pound of body weight contains about 3500 calories and to lose a pound a week you must consume 500 fewer calories per day than you metabolize. Essentially you have to increase your activity level and decrease your caloric intake for any diet to work. The mental challenge of dieting is the toughest obstacle to overcome. We make poor choices in our food selections for a myriad of reasons which include eating because we’re stressed out, because we’ve developed bad habits, because it is quick and easy, and it is not easy to change old habits.
One of the best ways to motivate ourselves is using positive self talk. Be nice to yourself. Don’t beat yourself down if you slip up while dieting, but just continue with the diet like the slip never happened. If you have a bad day, forgive yourself and wake up with an attitude and begin anew.
Writing daily in a journal is very important. Write everything you eat, how you are feeling, write about stress if it is a problem, write about cravings and how you can relieve that stress without turning to food. Find healthy outlets for stress, like exercise, confiding in a friend, start a new hobby, read a good book or anything else you can think of to take your mind off food. Most importantly, think positively!
From Fat to Thin
Low carbohydrate diets are popular and many people lose weight successfully by counting their daily carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate diets are used for weight control and to treat obesity. We are all different and it is important for you to choose the diet that will work for you. Foods high in carbohydrates are replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of proteins and fats, plus foods that have lower carbs such as green leafy vegetables. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) defines low-carbohydrate diets as:
“Low-carbohydrate diets restrict caloric intake by reducing the consumption of carbohydrates to 20 to 60 g per day (typically less than 20 percent of the daily caloric intake). The consumption of protein and fat is increased to compensate for part of the calories that formerly came from carbohydrates.” This quote came from the article “Low –carbohydrate diets” by Ar. Wilson from the American Family Physician.
Carbohydrates raise the blood sugar levels, which puts insulin into the blood stream. The theory behind the low carbohydrate diet is that insulin drives blood sugar into the cells and prevents fat breakdown, which means you won’t burn excess fat and lose weight. Proponents of the diet say this process actually causes weight gain.
Healthy Fresh Vegetables
Understing How the Diet Works in Your Body
Generally the diet focuses on meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and some non starchy vegetables. There is no bread, sweets, pasta, or starchy vegetables allowed. Initially there is loss of water weight, some say a decreased appetite, an increased of fullness and reduced calories. One of the problems with this diet is you will probably not be able to use it over the long term as so many things can’t be eaten. Secondly, if you go off the diet you will have to be very careful to not gain back the weight you worked so hard to lose. No one really knows the long term risks of this diet according to Mayo Clinic.
There are down sides to most diets and this particular diet is ketonic, which means your carbohydrates are restricted sufficiently to cause ketosis. The Atkins diet does the same thing. Ketosis means you have an elevated level of ketones in the blood which occurs when the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Some of these ketones can be used for energy. However, excess ketones will slowly decarboxylate into acetone and be excreted in the breath and urine. If you are not taking in enough carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores the body goes through a set of stages, so you enter ketosis. In this process, the adult brain will burn ketones. After 48 hours of this process the brain makes immediate use of this important substrate for lipid synthesis. That way glycogen can be reserved for absolute needs, thus avoiding the depletion of the body’s store of protein from the muscles.
The ketonic state is not the same thing as ketoacidosis which can occur with diabetes. The two times this diet is used for medical purposes might be to treat diabetes and epilepsy.
List Of Low Carbs Foods
Low Carbohydrate Cookbooks
You can purchase a small book for a nominal fee that tells you the number of carbohydrate in just about any food you typically eat. I have seen them while standing in line waiting to pay for groceries and this book will be helpful. The National Academy of Sciences recommends no less than 120 grams of carbs per day. There are fruits and vegetables allowed which would be listed in the book as well.
If you think the low carbohydrate diet is a healthy choice and will work for you, then get prepared so you can count your daily carb intake, work in some exercise and try it out. It is a popular diet and many people claim great success.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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