Low-carbohydrate diet

A low-carbohydrate diet is a type of diet based on the consumption of foods with a low glycemic index. This is a relatively new technique, the main goal of which is effective weight loss without harm to health and well-being.

Since the 1970s, standard low-fat diets with no restrictions on carbohydrate intake have been considered the most preferred for weight loss. Meanwhile, numerous studies, including those from Harvard University, published in 2017, confirm the higher effectiveness of a low-carb diet compared to a low-fat one.

The results show that the average weight loss of participants on a low-carbohydrate diet was 1-2 kilograms more than those who limited fat in their diet.

A low-carb diet is primarily suitable for professional crossfitters and other athletes, but it will also be useful for people far from sports who want to quickly lose a few extra pounds.

The essence of the diet :

The essence of a low-carbohydrate diet is the complete or partial rejection of foods containing carbohydrates, and a significant increase in the proportion of protein and fiber in the diet. Carbohydrates in the diet are reduced to 50 grams per day, and the amount of protein, on the contrary, increases – up to 150-200 g, depending on age, physique, and level of physical activity.

The diet must include a large amount of fiber in the form of vegetables, herbs, bran, and some unsweetened fruits. Switching to a low-carbohydrate diet, the athlete forces his body to adapt to alternative energy sources. The main principle of the low-carbohydrate diet is based on the process of ketosis. Let’s figure out what it is.

Such a diet improves insulin levels in the blood, which is especially important for patients with type 2 diabetes. Since the body does not get sources of carbohydrates with food, the required amount of glucose is not formed in the blood. In conditions of its deficiency, the body is in dire need of alternative sources of energy and nutrients and goes into the mode of consumption of fat accumulations to maintain a normal metabolic rate .

In the cells of adipose tissue, the processes of splitting are activated. Fatty acids are formed that enter the liver and muscle tissue, where they are oxidized and converted into acetyl-CoA (a substance needed in the Krebs cycle) and ketones (ketone bodies).

In conditions of carbohydrate deficiency, the liver breaks down fats into fatty acids and ketones to replenish glycogen stores and replenish energy – this is how ketosis occurs.

Dr. Atkins Diet :

The most common and popular low-carb ketogenic diet is the Dr. Atkins diet. Already at the initial stage, it implies a strict restriction of the proportion of carbohydrates in the diet – no more than 20 grams per day. Dr. Atkins first published his diet in 1966 in Harpers Bazaar.

He divided his diet into 4 phases:

1 Induction or Boosting Phase – A preparatory 2-week phase aimed at transitioning the body into ketosis mode (no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day).

2 The active phase of weight loss, aimed at gradually increasing the proportion of carbohydrates in the diet (by about 10 grams per week) while maintaining the fat burning effect.

3 Transitional phase – allows you to add any food to your diet, but in a strictly limited amount 1 or 2 times a week.

4 Support – by this stage, the weight should stabilize, and the diet gradually becomes more familiar. However, the proportion of carbohydrates and the volume of servings must be controlled in order to avoid weight gain.

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In the case of an increase in body weight, we return to the first stage of the diet.

Glycemic index of foods

To understand the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, consider the concept of a product’s glycemic index (GI). In the field of sports medicine and fitness, it is customary to divide carbohydrates into simple and complex. Or fast and slow – depending on the speed of their absorption by the body.

There is a nuance: the same product can have both a high and an average or even a low rate of glucose absorption into the blood. It all depends on the method of thermal or mechanical treatment, temperature, as well as additional impurities and additives. Therefore, in many ways, the division of carbohydrates into fast / slow will be conditional. More correct division according to their glycemic index.

The glycemic index of a product is determined by two factors – the rate of starch breakdown and the amount of starch that will be broken down. The faster the starch breaks down into glucose, the faster it enters the bloodstream, and the higher the sugar level rises.

If a large amount of glucose enters the body at once, it is not used immediately in full. Part goes to the “fat depot”. Therefore, the same food product can have a completely different glycemic index and will be perceived differently by the body.

Diet Benefits :

The main advantages of a low-carb diet:

1 Knowing the glycemic index of foods, it is easier to control blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for diabetics, who are advised by doctors to consume more low-glycemic foods.

2 A large amount of fiber, consumed in a low-carbohydrate diet, normalizes the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

3 A protein-rich diet saturates the body with all the essential amino acids and collagen, resulting in healthy hair, skin and nails.

Contraindications

Despite all the benefits of a carbohydrate-restricted diet, there are situations where a low-carb diet is strictly contraindicated:

disorders in the work of the kidneys and liver;

diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;

cardiovascular diseases;

hormonal imbalance,

pregnancy and lactation

You can not follow a low-carbohydrate diet for children and adolescents – there is a risk of a negative impact on metabolic processes.

Rules and diet :

On a low-carb diet, it is recommended to follow a number of rules to achieve the best results in losing weight:

1 Do not exceed the allowable amount of carbohydrates in the daily diet.

2 Do not allow breaks in food for more than 4 hours.

3 Daily diet is desirable to divide into 5-6 meals.

4 Divide all meals into 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks.

5 The calorie content of the main meal should not exceed 600 kilocalories, and the snack – 200 kilocalories.

6 If your training takes place in the morning, it is advisable to have a light snack with a protein breakfast (2-3 egg scrambled eggs).

7 If training falls in the evening, eat 2-3 hours before training and, if possible, do not eat immediately after training. A light snack before bedtime with a serving of cottage cheese (or other protein product) is allowed.

8 Coffee and other caffeinated drinks are not recommended on a low-carbohydrate diet. Alcohol is strictly prohibited.

9 Drink at least 2-3.5 liters of clean drinking water per day.

10 During a low-carbohydrate diet, it is desirable to take vitamin and mineral complexes to replenish the reserves of essential substances in the body.