With all of the conflicting studies and open interpretation of advice, it's no stunner that disorder reigns when it comes to the value and safety of low-carb diets. Whether it's Atkins, the South Beach or another low-carb set up, as many as 30 million Americans are doing a low-carb diet.
Advocates swear that the elevated quantity of carbohydrates in our diet has led to increasing problems with obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions. Critics, on the contrary, attribute obesity and associated health conditions to over-consumption of calories from any source, and shortage of physical movement. Critics also contend that the shortage of grains, fruits, and vegetables in low-carbohydrate plans may lead to deficiencies of some key nutrients, like fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, and several minerals.
Any plan, either low or high in carbohydrate, can generate substantial weight loss during the primary stages of the diet. But bear in mind, the key to prosperous dieting is in being capable to part with the weight for good. Put another way, what does the scale reveal a year after going off the diet? Let's see if we can debunk some of the mystery around low-carb diets. Further down, is a listing of some relevant points taken from latest studies.
- Differences Between Low-Carb Diets.
There are several popular diets designed to reduce carbohydrate intake. Reducing total carbohydrate in the diet means that protein and fat will represent a proportionately larger quantity of the whole caloric intake. Atkins and Protein Powder diets limit carbohydrate to a point where the body becomes ketogenic. Other low-carb diets like the Zone and Life Without Bread are less restrictive. Some, like Sugar Busters assert to remove only sugars and foods that raise blood sugar levels excessively.
- What We Know about Low-Carb Diets.
Just about all of the studies to date have been small with a broad range of research objectives. Carbohydrate, caloric consumption, diet length and participant characteristics have varied greatly. Most of the studies to date maintain two things in common: Not one of the studies had participants with a mean age above 53 and Not one of the controlled studies lasted longer than three months. Findings on older adults and long-term results are scant. Several diet studies fail to monitor the amount of exercise, and consequently caloric expenditure. This helps to explain discrepancies among studies.
The weight loss on low-carb diets is a business of caloric restriction and diet length, and not with reduced carbohydrate intake. This discovery suggests that if you desire to lose weight, you should eat fewer calories and do so over a prolonged duration. Little data exists on the long-range safety of low-carb diets. In spite of the medical community concerns, no short-term adverse effects have been established on cholesterol, glucose, insulin and blood-pressure levels amongst participants on the diets. Adverse effects may not be exposed because of the short period of the studies. Researchers have found that losing weight typically leads to an improvement in these levels anyway, and this may offset an increase caused by a high fat diet.
The extended range weight difference for low-carb and other types of diets is comparable. Most low-carb diets invoke ketosis. Some of the potential consequences are nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and confusion. During the first stages of low-carb dieting some fatigue and constipation may be encountered. Usually, these symptoms go away quickly. Ketosis may also give the breath a fruity odor, somewhat similar to nail-polish remover (acetone).
Low-carb diets do not permit the consumption of more calories than other types of diets, as has been frequently reported. A calorie is a calorie and it doesn't matter whether they originate from carbohydrates or fat. Study discrepancies are likely the effect of uncontrolled circumstances; i.e. diet participants that cheat on calorie intake, calories burned during exercise, or any number of other factors. The drop-out rate for rigorous low-carb diets is somewhat high.
What Should You Do?
There are 3 significant points I would like to re-emphasize:
- The long-range success rate for low-carb and other types of diets is comparable.
- Despite their acceptance, little data exists on the long-term efficacy and safeness of low-carbohydrate diets.
- Rigorous low-carb diets are generally not sustainable as a routine way of eating. Boredom most often overcomes willpower.
It is clear after reviewing the subject, that more, well-designed and controlled studies are required. There just isn't a lot of satisfactory information available, especially regarding long-range effects. Strict low-carb diets generate ketosis which is an unusual and potentially stressful metabolic state. Under some circumstances this may cause health related complications. The diet you choose should be a blueprint for a lifetime of better eating, not just a hasty weight loss plan to reach your goal. If you can't see yourself eating the prescribed foods longer than a few days or a week, then chances are it's not the proper diet for you. To this end, following a somewhat low fat diet with a healthy balance of fat, protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients is beneficial.
If you do resolve to follow a low-carb arrangement, bear in mind that certain dietary fats are associated with reduction of disease. Foods high in unsaturated fats that are free of trans-fatty acids such as olive oil, fish, flaxseeds, and nuts are preferred to fats from animal origins. Even promoters of the Atkins diet now say men and women on their system should curb the amount of red meat and saturated fat they eat. Atkins representatives are telling health professionals that just 20 percent of a dieter's calories should come from saturated fat (i.e. meat, cheese, butter). This switch comes as Atkins faces contention from other popular low-carb diets that call for less saturated fat, such as the South Beach diet plan.
Another alternative to "strict" low-carb dieting would be to give up some of the bad carbohydrate foods but not "throw out the baby with the bath water". In other words, foods high in processed sugar, snacks, and white bread would be avoided, but foods high in complex carbs such as fruits, potatoes and whole grains, retained.