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Are Low-Carb Diets Still Relevant Today?

Are Low-Carb Diets Still Relevant Today?

by May 3, 2015 0 comments

A weight loss strategy that was very popular in the late 90s and into the early 2000s was the low-carb diet. First popularised by Dr. Atkins in his book entitled Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution and then by Dr. Arthur Agatston in his South Beach Diet. Variations of this diet have appeared since then including the more recent Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain which emphasizes the consumption of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. Although low-carb diets have lost much of their popularity many of its basic principles are still very relevant to anyone wanting to lose weight and keep it off.

Statistics Canada reports that “more than half of the adult population (52%) reported height and weight that classified them as either obese or overweight”. It’s no wonder that with so many people that are overweight that most adults spend half of their adult lives on one diet or another. Unfortunately many of these diets don’t help in the long term and all too often a person will gain more weight after their diet than they lost during the diet. This pattern repeats itself and people keep gaining more and more weight with each failed diet attempt.

Every time you do a calorie restricted diet (i.e. diets that emphasize eating less or less often) you reset your metabolism. By eating less and less often you lower your metabolic rate and you keep lowering it further with each successive diet. As a result when you go off your diet you gain weight. One of the nice features of these low carb diets is that you don’t have to restrict calories. The only main restriction is carb intake. Although many people hear the term carb tossed around they really don’t know what a carb is. Carbs in very simple terms are sugars. Potatoes, pasta, bread, rice, fruits are all sources of carbs. We have as a society become “carb crazy”. The average individual consumes between 100 to 170 pounds of sugar annually. This isn’t surprising when you consider that a can of cola can contain between 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar!

Over the years people’s obsession with cutting out fat has lead to companies replacing the fat in their foods with sugars. Unfortunately fat free foods are usually high in carbs to make up for the flavour lost when the fats were removed. Although as of late excessive carb intake has been associated with weight gain, there are many other conditions that have been linked to high carb intake. These include heart disease, cognitive impairment’, increased free-radical production, fatigue, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, epileptic seizures’, and candida.

Although many people know that restricting carbs leads to weight loss, they don’t understand how this process works. When you eat a high carb meal, increased blood sugar stimulates the hormone insulin to be produced. A “side effect” of insulin is that carbs are converted into fat and deposited into cells. In addition, it stimulates your brain to produce hunger signals so you eat more. When you decrease carb consumption insulin levels decrease and glucagon levels increase. Glucagon is a hormone that allows the body to burn more fat while also helping lower cholesterol. The other result of lowering carbs is that your body goes into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body burns fat for energy when it doesn’t have carbs to use.

To simply tell you to restrict carbs would be only giving you part of the picture. Many individuals that are on low carb diets are making some very poor decisions. You can make your low carb diet not only more successful but far healthier with the following tips.

  1. Consume high quality proteins. Consume leaner cuts of meat, fish, whey protein powder (like Progresssive’s Harmonized Protein) and vegetarian protein powders (Progressive’s Harmonized Vegan Protein). Whey in particular has tremendous health benefits and when you choose a quality brand like Progressive’s it can be one of the cleanest proteins you can consume. In addition to being a quality protein choice they offer unique therapeutic benefits not found in other protein sources’. Protein has also been shown to keep your metabolic rate higher than it would be if you were on a low protein diet.’ Numerous studies have also found that by simply increasing the protein content of your meal you can significantly increase fat burning’’. Protein shakes also offer you the convenience of having a quick and healthy breakfast and a snack between meals when you get hungry.
  2. When eating carbs choose ones that have a low glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index measures how quickly a carb gets converted into blood sugar. The higher the GI the greater the chance that carb will be converted into body fat’’. An even more accurate measure than GI is glycemic load (GL). You can get books that list the GL and GI of foods. If you have internet access you can go to www.mendosa.com and you’ll find all the values you need.
  3. Don’t eliminate healthy fruits and vegetables, but eat ones that have a lower GI/GL. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins, minerals and important disease fighting phytochemicals (plant based chemicals). To ensure you’re getting enough fruits and veggies compliment your diet with VegeGreens and PhytoBerry. Not only are these rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants but they’re alkalising. Being acidic has been shown to promote mild hypothyroidism and decrease muscle mass both of which will reduce your ability to lose body fat.
  4. Include good fats regularly. Many people are under the impression they can eat all the fat they want and as a result are having large quantities of saturated animal fats. Reduce these types of fats and have fish, flax, and olive oils instead. Fish and flax oil are rich in omega-3 fats which have been shown to help with fat loss.,   Omega-3 fats also lower insulin levels and speed up weight loss.’ Fats also give you a feeling of fullness so you eat less and they also slow the rate carbs get converted into blood sugar ’.
  5. Consume fiber regularly in your diet. Fiber not only gives you the feeling of being full but it also slows down the rate sugar enters your bloodstream. In essence it can lower the GI /GL of carbs.
  6. Use a multivitamin/mineral formula daily like Progressive’s age, gender and lifestyle specific multivitamins. Unfortunately many low carb diets can be lacking in important vitamins and minerals, making supplementation necessary.
  7. Use a calcium supplement daily. With the increase in meat protein consumption usually associated with this type of diet studies have shown that you lose calcium and increase your risk of osteoporosis making calcium supplementation important.
  8. The use of supplements that contain garcinia, white kidney bean extract, gymnema, glucomannan, fenugreek, alpha lipoic acid, CLA, cinnamon, and green tea can help balance blood sugar, reduce carb cravings, block carbs from being absorbed, raise metabolism, and reduce food cravings.
  9. If you get the munchies instead of reaching for a candy bar have a healthy snack like nuts. Or have some vegetables drizzled with some healthy omega-3 fats.
  10. Exercise is an integral part of any weight loss program that many people try all too often to ignore. Exercise speeds up metabolism, increases muscle mass which in turn increases fat burning. Aside from exercises positive effects on weight loss it also keeps you healthy and lowers the risk of numerous diseases.

With these simple tips you will not only have more success with your low carb diet but you’ll be a healthier person for doing it. Good luck!

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