When it comes to weight loss, many people assume that a low-carbohydrate diet is their one-way ticket. But while cutting carbs does play a role in helping you shed those LBs, there’s certainly more to it than simply restriction.
Going low-carb means moderating your carbohydrate intake. Not only does this mean cutting back on grains and anything starchy, it also means focusing on getting higher amounts of protein, fat, and non-starchy veggies & fruits into your diet.
Looking to quit your beloved pastas, breads, and rice to get closer to your dream bod? Here’s everything you need to know about the facts, fixes, and functions of a low-carbohydrate diet!
WHAT IS A LOW-CARB DIET?
Carbohydrates are calorie-giving macronutrients found in many foods and drinks. There are two kinds: complex and simple. We chew on their distinctions right here!
Carbs are your body’s main source of fuel. Once digested, they turn into sugars in your bloodstream, otherwise known as “glucose.” The rise in sugar levels trigger insulin release, which makes your body absorb glucose faster.
Glucose is used to fulfill your body’s energy needs throughout the day, so it is important. However, the problem lies in its excess: too much glucose in your system only converts to fat, and gets stored in your liver and muscles.
The premise of a low-carb diet is simple. Decrease your carb intake to lower your insulin levels, which encourages the body to burn stored fat for energy. Ta-da, weight loss!
EXACTLY WHAT TO EAT ON A LOW-CARB DIET
As mentioned, a low-carb diet mainly focuses on lean sources of protein (meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs), along with non-starchy veggies like green beans, broccoli, and squash. Nuts and seeds are also a good snack option for this kind of diet, but be sure to have ‘em in moderation.
It’s also important to note that a typical low-carb diet consists of 20-60 grams of carbohydrates per day, which roughly amounts to 80-240 calories. How low you want to go is relative—there’s no strict amount for everyone.
However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans does recommend that carbs should make up 45-65% of your total daily calorie intake. That means if you consume an average of 2,000 calories a day, carbs should account for 900 to 1,300 calories of that.
Given that, dipping below 250 calories of carbs daily might seem like an alarming proposition. Worry not, though! As long as you balance out your meals with nutritious high-fiber, low-sugar carb alternatives, you should be A-OK. Oh, and as usual, be sure to consult with your doctor first!
TRY: Blue Diamond Mixed Nuts (150g), P218, ASAB Organics Sunflower Seeds (100g), P90, 7Grains Company Skinny Carbs Shirataki Noodles, P115, 7Grains Company Organic Edamame Protein Pasta, P160, Imagine Organic Butternut Squash Creamy Soup (32oz), P295, Imagine Organic Broccoli Creamy Soup (32oz), P275
PROS OF A LOW-CARB DIET
Aside from its weight loss benefits (especially when matched with a consistent exercise routine!), choosing a low-carb lifestyle can also help prevent diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and some cardiovascular diseases.
It can also improve your health on a general scale, as consuming more lean protein, healthy fats, and unprocessed carbs is a better choice for your body overall. Other health benefits include increasing your bank of “good cholesterol,” brain health, and managing your cravings.
CONS OF A LOW-CARB DIET
But wait, there’s more! Before you commit, know that going low-carb comes with its fair share of pitfalls, so it’s best to prep yourself for those.
Firstly, dietary changes should always be backed with planning and research. If just the idea of going below 250 calories worth of carbs daily is making your head spin, take that as a sign that you should read up more. You’re going to have to coach your body through any potential nutrient shortages that come with a lack of carbs, after all!
When you restrict your body from something it’s used to, it will need some time to adjust. This adjustment period typically results in temporary fatigue, tiredness, and muscle weakness, along with headaches, digestive problems, and rashes. Make sure to monitor any changes closely!
Working out may also be an issue. You might find that your body’s energy levels can’t keep up with your intense routines, since your once go-to energy source has been depleted. Arm yourself with substitutes that are up to the task!
SHOULD YOU GO LOW-CARB?
Now, be warned: this diet has been known to be super difficult to sustain in the long run. Carbs are everywhere, and for most people, they make up the biggest chunk of their daily nutritional intake. Not to mention, it also happens to be the most filling and accessible macronutrient option.
While going low-carb is certainly not for everyone, it can’t hurt to try it if you believe your health can benefit from it. Give it a spin—and make sure to follow through.
To discover more about healthy living, visit our Wellness Tab.
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