By Sherry L. Granader, CNC
Low-carbohydrate diets can produce 2-3 times more weight loss than a low-fat diet that many have bought into for years. In addition, a low-carb diet can create major improvements in many important risk factors such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies continue to show that low-carb diets can cause HDL (good) cholesterol to go up and triglycerides (fat in the blood) to go down. Plus, blood sugar levels and blood pressure decrease significantly.
Most of the weight lost comes from the liver and belly area when eating a low-carb diet. The body fat in the belly area is known as visceral fat that builds up in and around the organs, causing disease and inflammation. Those dealing with diabetes and metabolic syndrome find a low-carb diet particularly effective in controlling both health conditions.
With that said, there is still a lot of controversy about why the low-carbohydrate diet works so well. The truth is there are many factors going on when it comes to reasons why this way of eating is so effective. Here are some of the explanations on why low-carbohydrate diets work:
Lowers Insulin Levels – insulin is the main hormone in the body that regulates blood sugar levels. It tells the fat cells to produce and store fat, and keep the fat that is already there. Insulin also tells other cells to pick up blood sugar from the bloodstream and burn it instead of fat. Therefore, insulin stimulates the burning of fat and the production of fat.
A low-carb diet works because when carbohydrates are restricted, insulin levels go down. Body fat becomes more accessible for the body to burn for energy and that leads to reduced need to eat.
Weight Loss Is Quick – the real reason for quick weight loss on a low-carb diet is due to a reduction in water weight. When insulin is reduced, the kidneys shed excess sodium in the body - hence blood pressure is lowered. When carbohydrate intake goes down, glycogen levels go down and water goes with it. This does NOT happen if just calories are reduced.
In addition to water weight loss, low-carbohydrate diets help the body get rid of the dangerous visceral fat in the belly.
Grains And Sugars Are Replaced With High-Protein Foods – good quality protein can help increase muscle mass, give your metabolism a boost and reduce appetite. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
Eating good quality protein with a low-carbohydrate diet is the main reason for its effectiveness.
Low-Carb Diets Increase Your Energy – eating a low-carbohydrate diet actually increases energy expenditure more than a low-fat or reduced calorie diet - hence, it makes it easier to lose weight. When carbohydrate intake is low, most of the protein is transformed into glucose at first. Eventually, ketones start to replace some of that glucose as fuel for the brain within a few days.
As you settle into a low-carbohydrate diet, energy and weight loss increases significantly.
‘Junk’ Food Consumption Is Reduced – and that includes sugary soft drinks, unhealthy snacks, French fries, sugar, pizza and fruit juices. As a result, both calories and fat are reduced significantly.
By eliminating ‘junk’ foods and replacing them with high quality protein, good fats and vegetables, more nutrients are ingested and good health results.
Low-Carb Diets Reduce Appetite Significantly – and that leads to an automatic reduction in calorie consumption. Eating a low-carbohydrate diet allows you to eat until full and still allows weight loss. Increased protein intake is a significant factor and you simply don’t feel as hungry throughout the day.
Low-carbohydrate diets have a beneficial effect on the appetite-regulating hormones, leptin and ghrelin. They also have a major influence on energy balance. Leptin is the hormone that regulates energy, suppresses food intake and induces weight loss. Ghrelin is a fast-acting hormone that plays a role in meal initiation.
When you understand how low-carbohydrate diets work, you realize that they work on both sides of the equation when it comes to caloric intake. A low-carbohydrate diet boosts your metabolism and lowers your appetite and as a result, calories are reduced naturally. Calories count, however low-carbohydrate diets do not make you feel like you are being restricted or hungry. Are you in?
Carb Manager is the easiest and most powerful way to count carbs and live the low carb life. In this blog, we've invited experts on LCHF to contribute their views on everything low carb.