Today, we all know there’s one significant barrier to weight loss: carbohydrates. They’re in all of our favorite foods, they’re a staple in every meal, and when we’re hungry, we crave them. They’re also quickly broken down by our bodies, which means we can quickly use them for energy. But that also means we can generate excess energy that our body stores for the future.
So, it follows that by limiting carbs, we can lose weight, but is eating a low-carb diet good for us?
Limiting carbohydrates first came to prominence in the early 1970s with the Atkins diet. In 1972, Dr. Robert Atkins published Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, which has sold 12 million copies. Low carb diets have since had a further boost with the widespread adoption of the ketogenic diet. First developed to treat epilepsy in the 1920s, it has exploded over the past 15 years as its health benefits and help with weight control were realized. You may be one of the countless people thinking about trying out a low-carb diet, but what is it, is it right for you, and how do you cope without the bread, pasta, and potatoes most of us love?
Is a Low-Carb Diet Good for You?
Let’s take a look at the benefits:
- If you are looking for weight loss, then cutting carbs is the right way of going about it. A low-carb diet is a simple way to reduce calories and lose excess weight, especially in the first few weeks.
- A low-carb diet is particularly useful for losing belly fat. The fat that forms in your abdominal cavity, visceral fat, often lodges around your organs and is more harmful than the subcutaneous fat found under the skin.
- The fat molecules in your blood reduce drastically in those on a low-carb diet. These triglycerides are known to be an important factor in heart disease, so reducing these is beneficial for heart health.
- Low-carb diets are also perfect for reducing blood sugar levels and insulin and can make a big difference for people living with diabetes and insulin resistance.
So, are there any cons to a low-carb diet?
- If you’re not right about eating vegetables, you’ll have to consciously ensure you’re getting them in your diet or risk missing out on essential nutrients.
- It’s difficult to do if you’re vegetarian or vegan.
- High reliance on dairy and meat can lead to other health issues, so you still need to ensure you’re eating a balanced diet in terms of what’s on your plate, even as you choose low-carb vegetables.
What can you eat on a low-carb diet?
You need to have many proteins and fats plus vegetables that have few carbohydrates on a low-carb diet. Examples include:
- Meat: beef, pork, lamb, and chicken
- Oily fish like salmon and sardines
- Dairies such as cheese, butter, heavy cream, and Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds like pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and others
- Low-carb vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, kale, asparagus, and avocado
- Healthy fats: olive oil and coconut oil, for instance
What can’t you eat on a low-carb diet?
It would be best if you reduced, or refrain from eating altogether, foods with a high carbohydrate content such as:
- Sugar and foods with lots of added sugar like soft drinks, candy, and ice cream
- High-carb vegetables like turnips, carrots, and especially potatoes, beets, and yams
- Most fruits are high in carbs except for berries, so you should avoid or limit them
- Legumes like beans and chickpeas
- Vegetable oils like those made from corn, soybean, and canola Grains and anything made from them, so, no pasta, bread, rice or ordinary cakes, cookies and pastries
What are the differences between low-carb and keto?
In most low-carb diets, the number of carbs you eat is around 25%, with the rest of your calories coming from fat (40%) and protein (35%). A keto diet has a much more extreme shift away from carbohydrates. On a standard keto diet, the proportions of your food intake should be 70% fat, 25% protein, and just 5% carbohydrates.
A ketogenic diet does this for an essential purpose. By limiting carbs, the diet forces the body to look elsewhere for its energy source, and it begins to use fat. This state of ketosis is what a keto diet is all about.
Can you go low-carb when you love carbohydrates?
There are plenty of alternatives for those on a low-carb or keto diet that can fill that carbohydrate-shaped space. A search of the internet will turn up plenty of recipes for low-carb snacks, keto desserts, and low-carb desserts that are just as good as their carbohydrate-filled cousins.
Here are some excellent low-carb snacks and keto dessert recipes to try:
- Cinnamon Raisin Bagel from PBH.
- Keto Sugar-Free Cheesecake
- Keto Brown Butter Pralines
- Paleo Cinnamon Rolls
- Keto Chocolate Mousse
- Everything Bagel
- Keto Cream Cheese Cookies
- Keto Vanilla Donut
- Three-Ingredient Cheesecake Keto Fat Bombs
- One Minute Keto Low-Carb Brownie
Low-carb diets don’t suit everyone but, for many, provides the perfect way to control their weight and feel fitter and healthier. A low-carb diet can be just as much fun and have as much variety as a regular diet. Make sure you find ways to enjoy carb substitutes with smart recipes and keto-friendly low-carb snacks and low-carb desserts so you don’t give in to your cravings! See our keto bundles for more.