Low-carb diets arrived on the scene in the early 1970s with the introduction of the Atkins diet. While time has shown that this restrictive eating style poses numerous health risks and only a few benefits, newer versions of the low-carb diet – less restrictive ones – are still extremely popular among those hoping to shed a few pounds. Many of the newer, more balanced plans are more healthy than the original Atkins plan. Diets such as the Zone and the South Beach diet are some of the more popular ones.
3 Pros of a Low-Carb Diet
Most modern low-carb diets do not restrict carbohydrate consumption as severely as the Atkins diet, making them a healthier option. Even if you don’t wish to follow a low-carb diet, many trainers and nutritionists will still encourage you to eat fewer carbs along your path to weight loss. Here’s why:
- Feel Full – When you cut carbohydrates, you naturally eat more protein. Your body takes longer to break down proteins than it does carbohydrates. You can liken it to placing gasoline in a fire versus additional firewood. The gas – carbohydrates – burns away quickly, but the firewood – protein – remains in the belly of the fire much longer. All of this causes you to feel full longer after a meal containing lots of protein and a small amount of carbohydrates.
- Quick Weight Loss – There’s no denying that low-carb diets result in fast, dramatic weight loss. Low-carb diets also work for the majority of people who wish to lose weight as a diet rich in excess carbs is the number one reason for obesity in America. You definitely can lose weight with a low-carb plan.
- Scientific Evidence – Low-carb diets are grounded in science. You see, when you eat fewer carbs, your body slows insulin production, resulting in your body tapping into stored fat for energy. When there aren’t enough carbohydrates to fuel the body, the body enters a process called ketosis. This means that your body starts burning fat as the main energy source rather than carbs.
3 Cons of a Low-Carb Diet
As with anything, there are risks associated with following a restrictive, low-carb diet. Some of the most common ones are as follows:
- Starvation Mode – Eating only protein forces your body into starvation mode. Your body uses sugar – carbohydrates – to function. Starvation mode causes it to rely on fats instead. Fat cells are not an adequate fuel for your body, so there are numerous physical maladies that come along with ketosis including headaches, irritability, kidney overwork, and heart palpitations.
“If you suddenly and drastically cut carbs, you may experience a variety of temporary health effects, including:
- Bad breath
- Constipation or diarrhea
In addition, some diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that in the long term they can result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal disturbances and may increase risks for various chronic diseases.” – Mayo Clinic
- Difficult to Maintain – Anytime you severely restrict your diet, you lower your chances of actually sticking to the diet. As human, we do not like to feel deprived. Will power will get you through a few weeks, but most people find that they cannot push on much longer with a low-carb diet.
- Weight Gain – Once you start eating again, you will rapidly put on the weight you lost plus some. This is due to the body being in starvation mode. During times of extreme hunger, your body’s metabolism slows. When you start eating, your body burns calories at a slower rate than it did before the diet.
The key to successful weight loss while on a low-carb diet is to find balance. Avoid low-carb plans that severely restrict carbs or eliminate them altogether (unless you are under doctor’s orders). Work to lower your carbohydrate intake while making healthy, balanced choices. In terms of a lifestyle change, eventually you may increase your carb intake but focus on whole grains, fruits, veggies and other complex carbohydrates.