This post outlines some points to consider when choosing a low-carb diet plan that’s right for you. Broadly speaking, low-carb diets restrict the amount of carbohydrates you consume to create calorie deficit and encourage fat burning. Going low-carb means cutting out (or at least, dramatically reducing) your consumption of such foods. I have put together a brief overview of five popular low-carb diet plans, across a range of criteria to help you choose the most suitable one. Atkins: the original and still the best-known low-carb diet, consisting of 4 phases, starting with Induction at just 20g net carbs a day and gradually increasing.
Keto: similar to Atkins Induction, daily carbs are kept to a minimum throughout the full duration of the diet. Paleo: although not specifically designed to be low-carb, Paleo excludes foods made available by agriculture and processed foods, cutting out grains and refined sugar, which results in lower carb consumption. South Beach: low-fat as well as low-carb but a lot less radical than Dukan, with several phases. These first two factors are linked as a trade-off – stricter diets would enable faster weight loss BUT also require more effort and willpower, and you would be more likely to give up the diet. Where weight loss is mentioned as guaranteed, this is only the case if you definitely stick with all the guidelines of the diet. If you keep attempting strict diets and falling off the wagon after several days or weeks, I would recommend choosing a more moderate plan. Some low-carb diets plans start out with a short strict phase (often ketogenic), designed to reset your metabolism and food habits, and then gradually move to longer but less restrictive stages. Many low-carb diets are very high in fat (basically replacing your energy source from carbs to fat), whereas some other plans are also low-fat (most notably Dukan). Ketosis is a natural state when your body starts converting fat for fuel instead of glucose.
Getting into ketosis can be difficult – for the first several days, you might experience fatigue, headaches and general lack of energy. If you are an athlete, or if you do regular high-intensity exercise such as weight lifting, bodybuilding or sprint running, your dietary needs will obviously be very different to those of sedentary people. If your lifestyle is mostly sedentary, and your exercise levels are small or moderate, you don’t need to worry too much about the diet’s implication on your performance. If you find the idea of food tracking a bit of a nightmare, opt for a plan that doesn’t include it.


Interestingly, Dr Atkins allowed sweeteners in moderation, but since his death Atkins Nutritionals corporation seem to disregard it all, and churn out masses of artificially sweetened Atkins bars, milkshakes, even breakfast cereals. Guidelines vary from diet to diet, but generally, dietitians do recommend taking supplements to support low-carb diets, especially during the really restrictive stages. Whatever you do, please always stick with well-known diet plans that have been tried and tested, and never resort to desperate measures that promise overnight results, such as diet pills – that’s just plain stupid and likely to damage your health. Standard Western diets usually include quite a lot of high-carb foods, so low-carb usually means a major lifestyle change.
In either case, it is important to have realistic expectations and not expect miracles overnight.
It is difficult to get into ketosis if you don’t consume extra fat with your diet, and overall low-carb low-fat diets are much harder to stick to than low-carb high-fat (LCHF, e.g. Although new research shows dietary fat is not quite the devil it was once thought to be (and in fact could have substantial health benefits), some people are still afraid of it, and so prefer to keep their fat intake low or moderate. This occurs when carbohydrates are reduced to a minimum for a period of time, usually less than 20g net carbs a day for at least 5-7 days (e.g. However, once ketosis kicks in, these symptoms disappear and you are likely to have more energy than before. All popular low-carb diet books usually include guidance and advice on exercising during that particular diet. Typically, such plans will provide a list of permitted or banned foods and leave it at that. Please stick with the advice given in the original book and avoid these products if you can. It relies on protein and restricts consumption of grains, root vegetables and fruit, which all play a big role in vegetarian diets.
Although it would require effort and determination, weight loss and health benefits of going low-carb can be significant. Both low-fat and high-fat camps are passionate about their beliefs and have research to back them up, so you would have to make up your own mind about this aspect. Hunger and sugar cravings will go away, and you can achieve fast weight loss in this state.
If you must have something sweet, make a low-carb dessert from scratch – at least you will know exactly what’s in it.
The most well-known plan to have a specific vegetarian version is South Beach for Vegetarians.


Ketosis (not to be confused with ketoacidosis) is not unhealthy, and there are people who stay in ketosis for months and even years. You will need to keep your carb intake to a minimum in order to stay there – eat something high in carbs and you will get knocked out and back to square one. Keeping a food diary is actually supposed to be beneficial overall anyway – you are less likely to deviate from your diet if you have to make a note of everything you eat. A Systematic Review of the Literature) concluding that carbohydrate restriction is the best short term dietary approach to lose weight for people with obesity. Diets that are very low in carbs can result in ketosis – a natural state where body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
Furthermore, they concluded that the current scientific literature does not indicate that such an approach has any harmful effects on health as so many have suggested.SBU (Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment) is a group of experts appointed by Swedish authorities, whose role is to update health care professionals on the best available diagnostic and treatment options for diverse medical conditions. SBU has been performing systematic reviews since 1987, and they consider themselves to be one of the oldest and best established Health Technology Assessment Organization in the world.Today SBU published their systematic analysis of currently available scientific studies on different dietary approaches for the treatment of obesity.
Low carb diet best for obesitySBU concludes that during short term (less than 6 months), dietary advice emphasizing moderate or strict carbohydrate restriction is more effective in terms of weight loss, than advice emphasizing a low fat diet. During long term, there are no differences in weight loss between moderate or strict carbohydrate restriction, low fat diets, high protein diets, a Mediterranean diet, a low GI-diet, or a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids.
Advice to increase the consumption of dairy products (milk in particular) or reduce the amount of sugary beverages may induce weight loss as well.The Swedish experts conclude that available scientific evidence does not support that advising moderate or strict carbohydrate restriction will increase the risk of heart disease. Even low carb diets containing high amounts of saturated fat have not been shown to increase risk. Public health organizations and medical societies usually advocate a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, energy-deficient diet to manage weight. I do hope this is only the beginning and that health authorities elsewhere will follow in their footsteps. There is very much at stake because obesity and its metabolic and cardiovascular consequences are becoming very serious health issues of pandemic proportions.



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Comments

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