Low Carb Diet: What is it and how does it work?
The Low Carb Diet is one of the classic diets for weight loss. The name speaks for itself: it is about reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your daily diet to promote weight loss. There are different variations and intensities to how much the carbohydrate content is reduced. Most forms of Low Carb Diet completely forbid short-chain carbohydrates. With our BMI Calculator you can determine your nutritional needs.
The scientific principle behind the Low Carb Diet looks like this: Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy besides fats and proteins. So, when your body needs energy, it first pulls it out of the carbohydrate stores and only when these stores are used up does your body start pulling from the fat reserves. So the idea is to reduce the carbohydrates and get the body to access the fat stores faster and burn fat faster. Depending on the amount of carbohydrates added – initially it is usually below 50g – the body enters the ketosis and thus into a state in which the entire energy supply of the body is covered by the ketone bodies derived from fats. By getting used to this energy source, the body’s ability to quickly switch between different types of energy is trained. To prevent you from feeling exhausted , especially in the first few weeks of the conversion, individual “cheat meals”, so carbohydrate-rich meals, are incorporated. For example, a serving of potatoes. The high protein content in the diet combined with an increased water intake serves to prevent food cravings.
What is allowed in a low carb diet and what is not?
|Permitted||In low amounts|
|Meat||Grains (bread etc)|
|Fish||Sugar and sugar substitutes (honey etc.)|
|Nuts and seeds||Potatoes|
Who is the Low Carb Diet perfect for?
- In a moderate form, the Low Carb Diet is perfect for any healthy person with a few extra pounds to lose.
- Some people find it hard to do without carbohydrates, but this is not a hindrance. The Low Carb Diet can also be started slowly with a gradual increase in intensity.
- Extreme forms of Low Carb Diets are difficult to sustain and not advisable for everyone. Although one achieves faster results, these are unfortunately not always sustainable.
- One might think that especially athletes benefit from this diet, but lots of exercise activity is not required.
- In the higher performance range, ie in the “fine tuning” definition phase, when you already have a high proportion of muscle mass and a low body fat content, a pure Low Carb Diet brings fewer results.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of the Low Carb Diet
|You do not have to go hungry, as the carbohydrate deficiency is counterbalanced by other low-carbohydrate foods such as meat, nuts, and most of all, plenty of vegetables, that will sufficiently satisfy you.||If only the carbohydrates are reduced and the macronutrient distribution is changed, without changing the diet in a healthy and balanced way, the effect of a low-carb diet is very limited. A high fiber content from vegetables is essential, but it’s also essential to choose good nutrient dense sources of fat and protein.|
|You quickly develop a sense of what is good and what is not so good for you, and you can easily find alternatives to replace the otherwise high carbohydrate foods.||One of the most common mistakes with Low Carb Diets is that the reduction of carbohydrates is not sufficiently balanced by other nutrients, resulting in a permanent nutrient deficiency, which leads to food cravings. A Low Carb Diet does not mean starving yourself.|
|The reduction of carbohydrates quickly shows weight loss results.||Often, the quick results lead to the idea that you’ll keep getting the same results long term. However, at a certain point in time, particularly athletes need carbohydrates again in order to achieve more.|
|The increased protein intake helps maintain muscle mass during the diet.||An increased intake of protein is always associated with an increased water requirement. This can lead to liver damage in the long term.|
|There is no calorie counting needed. In a balanced Low-Carb Diet with plenty of vegetables, high-quality protein sources, and good fats, weight loss works without much effort.||The name low-carb can be misleading because it merely indicates that carbohydrates need to be reduced. If you merely reduce carbs, but still eat an unhealthy diet, not much is won.|
|You are free to decide how often you eat.||In order to achieve good efficiency with a Low Carb Diet, the body needs portions of food fairly often (about every 2 to 3 hours) to keep the blood sugar as constant as possible and to avoid cravings.|
Low Carb Diet in Detail
How individual is the Low Carb diet?
- Low carb is compatible with virtually any other diet (vegetarian, vegan etc).
- The intensity of the carbohydrate reduction can be individually adapted to personal needs and physical conditions. If you have managed the first two weeks, you can usually succeed in the long run, but some get tempted by their favorite foods and sweets and quickly fall back into old habits.
How flexible is the low carb diet?
- With a low carb diet, it’s no problem to go out for a meal spontaneously or to get snacks on the go. Often you have to leave only the side dish on the plate or avoid the bread in the restaurant. Often you can also replace the side dish with more vegetables.
- Since you do not have to stick to a specific plan, you are free in deciding what you want to eat.
- You don’t have to count calories, just give up high carbohydrate foods and eat enough protein and vegetables, which makes you very flexible and spontaneous.
How suitable is the Low Carb Diet for everyday use?
- A Low Carb Diet will only reduce the amount of high carbohydrate foods such as noodles, potatoes, and rice. Therefore, it does not represent a major or costly change of cooking / eating behavior.
- The Low Carb Diet is very suitable for everyday use and easy to follow, especially since there’s no annoying calorie counting.
- The variety of foods you can eat is also not limited, as there are many types of Low Carb substitutes.
- Easy to combine with sports and any kind of physical activity.
- No special products are needed that are not available in your average grocery store.
How scientific is the Low Carb Diet?
- The Low Carb Diet is a diet that reduces carbs. Most Low Carb Diets partially or completely dispense with short-chain carbohydrates. The idea behind it is relatively simple: the body should “burn” the fat reserves instead of the carbohydrates. The desired result: weight loss.
- Low Carb Diets also reduce carbohydrate intake because carbs break down or convert to sugar in the body, causing blood sugar levels to rise. In order to reduce this, the body produces insulin, a chemical messenger substance which on the one hand gives the cells the signal to store the sugar (first in the muscles and organs, and if these are “full” then in into the fat cells) and on the other hand inhibits fat burning. Most low carbohydrate diets do not use short chain carbohydrates (sugar, sugar substitutes like honey or syrup, white flour), because they increase the blood sugar very fast and thus trigger the described process more than long-chain carbohydrates.
How sustainable is the Low Carb Diet and what are its risks?
- Properly done, the weight reduction and diet change by low carb is very sustainable and can also be done as a long-term diet with adjusted carbohydrate amount.
- But it all depends on how intensively the carbohydrate reduction takes place and whether the whole diet was carried out correctly.
- If the calorie deficit is too high, there is an increased risk of regaining some weight after the diet is over. In addition, it can lead in the long term to lack of energy, fatigue, and lack of exercise. This in turn impairs the performance, weakens the immune system, and harms the regeneration of the body.
- The body should be sufficiently supplied with all the important nutrients during the diet, so that there are no deficiencies. With proper implementation the Low Carb Diet can be a balanced, healthy diet.
Summary and evaluation
Low Carb is a modern classic among weight loss methods – and for good reason. As the name implies, “low carb” = “low carbohydrates” reduces foods that are high in carbohydrates such as pasta, cereals, rice, sugar, etc. The resulting calorie deficit is then replaced by vegetables, nuts, meat and other foods. If you do not practice an extreme form of the Low Carb diet, you can sustainably lose weight, without hunger, and keep it off for the long term. Since annoying side effects such as calorie counting are eliminated and no special products need to be bought, Low Carb is very easy to integrate into everyday life and does not represent a major lifestyle change. For health reasons you do not have to worry about a moderate carbohydrate reduction and you can adjust the intensity depending on the target. Therefore, our feedback is:
|Everyday usability & implementability|
Low Carb and Upfit: Varied nutrition with your individual Nutrition Plan
Nutrition is the key to success to losing weight permanently,. A diet plan that will help you reach your goal weight, and maintain it long term, must take into account your preferences and everyday needs. Upfit gives you the opportunity to tailor your diet plan to your individual lifestyle and helps you lose weight in a healthy way.
Depending on the your desired weight, cooking time, and your athletic activity, you can create your personalized nutritional plan in just a few steps and let the pounds start tumbling off.
Like to learn more about Low Carb Diets? then check out our detailed discussion on Low Carb Diets here.