Low Carb Diet: Factor Or Fad?

If you’re looking to lose weight, one diet plan that you’ve likely considered at some point or another is the low carb diet.  Low carb diet programs do tend to offer a number of benefits to those who use them, but at the same time, you need to be careful in how you approach them because in some cases, they can do more harm than good.

In order for a low carb diet plan to be fully effective, it needs to be implemented properly.

Let’s take a closer look at what low carb diets are, how they work, and whether they are right for you.

What A Low Carb Diet Is

The very first thing that you need to consider is what a low carb diet is.  A low carb diet is a diet plan that reduces the carbohydrate calories that you consume and instead focuses on lean proteins and healthy fats.

There are different degrees of low carb diet plans available. Some will take the total carbohydrate content to an extremely low level – less than 30 grams per day for instance as in the case of a ketogenic diet plan, while there are others that use a more moderate approach and have you eating around 100-150 grams per day, coming mostly from fibrous sources.

In almost all cases though with a low carb diet plan, the total percentage of calories coming from dietary fat on that diet will outweigh the total percentages of calories coming from carbohydrates.

The end result is that you are deriving more of your fuel for healthy dietary fats as opposed to carbohydrates.

The protein component of your diet should stay relatively constant as this won’t change regardless of what type of diet plan you choose to use.

Why Low Carb Diets Work

So now that you know what low carb diets are, why do they work?

The first reason why low carb diets can prove to be successful is because they tend to decrease your hunger levels.  Since hunger is the one thing that causes most people to cheat on their diet or fall off the bandwagon altogether, any diet plan that is going to help reduce your total hunger will definitely work in your favor.

The second reason why low carb diet plans are effective is because they will encourage you to consume more lean protein and vegetables. Since lean protein can actually help to boost your metabolic rate and encourage fat loss, having more of your diet dedicated to this nutrient definitely works in your favor.

Then, vegetables are so low in calories that you hardly even have to count them as part of your intake, making them ideal as well for losing fat quickly.

As long as you base your diet around these two foods rather than taking in high amounts of fat-rich foods, your calorie intake will natural decrease, which is what causes fat loss in the first place.

Problems Associated With Low Carb Diet Plans

Now that you’ve seen the pros associated with the low carb diet, what about the cons?  As with almost everything in life, there is a negative and a positive.

On the negative side of things, many people do find that when they adopt very low carb diet plans, their energy level dramatically decreases.

They’re left feeling drained, sluggish, and short on fuel.  In addition to that, they also may not be able to sustain intense physical activity any longer because the body requires glucose as a source of fuel for this.  If you are hard at work in the gym, this could be severely limiting for you and turn you away from the plan entirely.

Another big problem associated with low carb diets is mental fuzziness.  While some people, should they stick out the low carb diet long enough, will adapt to the reduced carb intake, many other people never feel quite right on low carb diets.

This is due to the fact that the brain does require 100 grams of carbohydrates per day to function optimally before switching over to ketone bodies as a fuel source, so if you’re providing less than this, you may begin to run into problems.

Finally, the last issue that can occur with low carb diets is that they can cause the metabolism to slow down.  Carbohydrate intake is closely associated with your thyroid gland so when it starts to decrease, thyroid function can decline.  As it does, you burn off fewer and fewer calories each day, making fat loss that much harder.

This can be corrected with periodic high carb days on the diet plan, so just make a mental note that you’ll need to implement those if you want to see great success.

Who Low Carb Diets Are Best For

So all of this said, should you use a low carb diet?

A low carb diet plan is going to be best suited to those individuals who find that they really battle with hunger extensively when dieting and can’t tolerate it on a regular basis.  In addition to this, if you’re someone who doesn’t plan to do a higher amount of intense physical activity, this will also lend itself better to utilizing a low carb diet approach.

If you are going hard in the gym each and every day and start cutting your carbs, you most definitely are not going to be feeling your best and your performance will decline.

So there you have a closer look at the low carb diet plan.  Low carb diets can be very beneficial and helpful for the weight loss process as long as they’re structured properly and you select healthy foods to have on them.

Keep your diet focused around lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, egg whites, fish, low-fat dairy, and lean red meat, healthy fats such as nuts, oils, fatty fish, seeds, and avocados, and then fruits and vegetables.  If you do that, you’ll have no problem reaching your goal weight.

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About the Author”]Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology.  In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now.[/stextbox]

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2 Comments

  1. Richard McGee March 23, 2012
  2. Donald Floyd March 24, 2012

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