The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Low Carb Diets

I recently found an outstanding article on healthy low-carb eating (low carb diet) over at Tips That Rock.
So I contacted the author, Dianne Van, to ask her permission to republish it here.
She’s eager to promote healthy eating, so she said yes.

Here it is —

The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Low Carb Diets

The proof is in.

Low Carb diets have been clinically proven to be helpful for:

  • weight loss
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • and many other truly serious health problems

If you are interested in a Beginners Guide To Low Carb Diets, this is the article for you.

Here’s what this article will cover:

  1. What Are Carbohydrates
  2. Types of Carbohydrates
  3. Simple Carbohydrates
  4. How Carbs Work
  5. Simple Carb Foods
  6. Complex Carb Foods
  7. The Glycemic Index
  8. How Carbs Contribute To Weight Gain
  9. Water Retention
  10. Insulin Triggers
  11. Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs
  12. The Role Of Fiber
  13. Low Carb Weight Loss
  14. Typical Menu
  15. Carb Allowance
  16. Lipolysis and Ketosis
  17. What The Science Shows
  18. The Benefits Of Low Carb Diets
  19. Prevent Chronic Disease
  20. Weight Loss
  21. Carbs And Blood Sugar
  22. How To Start A Low Carb Diet
  23. Commercial Low Carb Diets
  24. Low Carb Diet
  25. Low Fat Diet
  26. The Bottom Line


What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients we should eat every day. The others are protein and fat. Carbohydrates are biomolecules or saccharides that support various bodily functions, including providing energy, supporting immune system functions, and blood clotting. In simple terms, carbohydrates are sugars.

Types of Carbohydrates

  • Complex Carbohydrates
  • Simple Carbohydrates

Simple Carbohydrates

simple-carbsSimple carbohydrates are simple sugars made up of only one or two sugar (saccharide) chains. All simple sugars and starches are converted to glucose in the body with the exception of sugar alcohols and insoluble fiber.

Simple Carbohydrates Include: soda, candy, table sugar, honey, syrup, milk, white flour, and juices.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made up of thousands of sugar chains and therefore they are “complex.”

Complex Carbohydrates Include: starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, along with bread, beans, rice, cereals, and grains.

How Carbs Work

Of these two, complex carbohydrates are the healthiest since they also have fiber, and do not cause blood sugar spikes as simple sugars do. All complex carbohydrates convert to glucose in the body, which is then used as fuel for the cells, brain, and other vital organs. This is why carbohydrates are considered an important part of the human diet.

potatoComplex carbohydrates involve long chains of simple sugars all attached in various ways to one another. They are too big to be digested by the small intestine in their present state and therefore need to be broken down for absorption into the bloodstream. This takes some time, especially when complex carbs include an ample amount of fiber, like whole grains and brown rice. Glucose increase in the bloodstream is very gradual so that there are no spikes in insulin levels helping to prevent type 2 diabetes and making sure less sugar turns into fat.

Simple carbohydrates are basically small sugars that are not connected to one another or that have just one connection. Simple sugars include glucose, fructose, and galactose. They do not need to be broken down any further to be absorbed into the body to be used as fuel and so they digest quickly and flood the bloodstream with glucose causing insulin spikes to occur.

Simple Sugars: Fructose And Sucrose

While both are simple sugars, the sugar in fruit is a monosaccharide called fructose, and table sugar is a disaccharide known as sucrose.

Simple sugars aren’t healthy like complex sugars because they cause spikes in blood sugar. This triggers the release of insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas, which puts the food into the cells. Leftover sugar is stored as fat, which contributes to weight gain and obesity. Table sugar and anything made with it is considered empty calorie food that typically serves no nutritional purpose for the body.

berry-197078_1280While the fructose in fruit is also a simple sugar, it has a natural advantage over table sugar because fruit also provides various nutrients, like antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that help to reduce cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Conversely, table sugar has none of these benefits and in fact can actually cause harm to the body beyond weight gain.

It is important to note that eating any type of sugar, especially in large quantities can be harmful, including that which comes from fruit. Typically eating a lot of sugar results in consuming too many calories. Fruit, while nutritious has three times more calories per serving as vegetables.

Simple Carb Foods

Simple sugars are found in any type of processed food product that requires sugar in the recipe. This can include cakes, puddings, pies, cookies, and sugar-containing sodas, among others. If you read the back of a label of food, it will tell you what the amount of carbohydrates is in the food as well as the amount of “sugar,” which means simple sugars.

Fruit juices also contain simple sugars and no fiber and while juices have a great deal of vitamin C and other healthy ingredients, they are not recommended for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes and for those who are concerned with their bodyweight. The excess sugar in juice just goes to fat.

Complex Carb Foods


It is a good idea to get yocauliflowerur carbohydrates from sources that contain complex carbohydrates, especially those with high amounts of fiber. Many naturally low carb foods are healthy and will not cause weight gain when they are a part of a well-balanced diet. Some good foods that contain complex carbohydrates include the following:



  • Green vegetables are your best source of carbs as they contain very little impact carbs and a lot of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and they are high in fiber.
  • Brown rice contains a lot of carbs as well as fiber.
  • Whole grain bread products that contain real whole grains and are not processed.
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Sweet Potatoes are starchy vegetables containing complex carbohydrates. The best cooking method is baking.
  • Beans, peas, and lentils can be added to salads or soups to make a food high in complex carbohydrates, very low in fat and high in fiber and protein.
  • Pumpkin— is high in fiber and rich in nutrients, and has a low glycemic index.

The Glycemic Index

The Glycemic Index is a scale that measures a food’s impact on raising blood sugars. Insulin trigger foods are typically high on the GI scale. High glycemic foods are those that absorb sugar very quickly into the bloodstream, raising insulin levels immediately and drastically.

Low glycemic index foods are those that contain fiber or that have complex carbohydrates in them so the sugar doesn’t digest as fast. You still need to watch calories but, by staying away from high glycemic foods, you will stimulate the pancreatic beta cells much less and less of the sugar will turn into fat.

Low GI foods are recommended for anyone looking to keep type 2 diabetes at bay and manage their weight.

 How Carbs Contribute To Weight Gain

raspberry-427390_1280Carbohydrates are a group of food necessary for survival along with healthy sources of protein and fat. While the USDA dietary guidelines recommended that 40-60% of our daily diet come from carbohydrates, many disagree with this formula, and thousands choose to eat a much lower daily carb intake, be it for weight loss, weight maintenance or to prevent or control type 2 diabetes.

Carbohydrates can be an important part of a well-balanced diet, however studies have shown that they can and do contribute to weight gain, in the following ways.

Water Retention

Once the body converts carbs into glucose that is used for fuel, any leftover fuel is then converted into glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles so it can be turned into glucose, as the body needs it. This process results in muscle tissues holding on to extra water that can tip the scale in an unfavorable direction.

Insulin Triggers


When it comes to weight gain, simple sugars are definitely your main culprit. They include any high sugar fruits, and processed foods made from sugar, such as cookies, candy, pies, and pastries, juices and soda. It is estimated that there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in just one can of sugar-containing soda. Soda is one of the worst drinks because it floods the bloodstream with sugar and secondarily, insulin. Insulin in high quantities attempts to put glucose in the cells for cellular fuel and replenishes the glycogen stores, which is one way of storing sugar.

When there is enough glucose in the cells and enough glycogen has been made, insulin puts the excess sugar into fat cells and turns the glucose into fat. You gain weight and gain fat, especially from eating or drinking foods that contain empty sugar calories that don’t really provide you with the minerals and vitamins your body needs.

Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs

avocado-450382_1280Complex carbohydrates are slow to digest and metabolism has to break these sugars down into simple sugars, primarily glucose, for absorption and for use as fuel. Complex carbohydrates are considered “good carbs” because they have lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and because they do not cause high spikes in blood sugar after eating them.

Starches like whole grains, beans, lentils and whole grain rice or pasta typically fall under the category of “good carbs,” and depending on your goals should be included in a well-balanced diet.

Vegetables are the healthiest carbs and should be incorporated into your diet as much as possible. This is true whether you want to lose or maintain a healthy weight.

“Bad carbs” are those carbohydrates that involve simple sugars, which absorb quickly into the bloodstream, allowing insulin to be pumped quickly out of the pancreas in order to lower the blood sugar. Some sugar is used for fuel, other sugar molecules are used to replenish stores of glycogen in the liver, while the leftover sugar goes to make fat.

Bad carbs have a high glycemic index, meaning that they flood the bloodstream quickly and cause insulin to put away more food as fat. Baked goods, soda, juice, white rice, potatoes, white pasta, and white bread all contribute to weight gain, especially when one overindulges.

Whole grain starches, like brown rice, wild rice, and whole grain bread is a better choice because the fiber is not stripped away from them in processing, as is the case in the white varieties, and the high fiber count helps to counteract the impact of the sugar carbs.

Some carbohydrates are both good and bad. For example, whole fruits contain fructose, which is a simple sugar, but they also contain fiber, which can trap the sugars in the GI tract for a while so that the sugar can more gradually enter the bloodstream. This is why whole fruits have a lower glycemic index than the same juices made from the fruits. Fruits also vary in how many sugar carbs they have with berries having the lowest amount.

The difference between starch and sugar digestion and thus satiety can make you eat more food than you need and therefore cause weight gain. Sugars from junk foods digest very fast causing you to feel hungry soon after eating.

Carbs that also contain soluble fiber slow digestion and sugar absorption reducing blood sugar spikes and so vegetables and grains take longer to convert into glucose, which stabilizes your appetite and reduces binge eating.

The Role Of Fiber

whole-grainFiber plays a key role in the impact a particular carb content of a food will have on weight gain. Fiber is also the reason that brown whole grains are recommended over processed white grains because the processing strips the grain of fiber, leaving higher impact carbs.

NOTE: Low Carb Diets reduce baked goods and breads,
even when made of whole grains.

The fiber found in whole fruit is also the reason it is better than juicing that strips away the fiber rich pulp of the fruit making juice higher in sugar impact carbs than eating the whole fruit.

In general, the more fiber a food has, the less impact its carbs will have on blood sugars.

The formula is simple: when reading food labels subtract the fiber content from the carbohydrate content and that is the actual count of carbs that impact blood sugars and can cause weight gain.

Foods High In Fiber


  • Vegetables, especially green and leafy green varieties
  • Berries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Whole grains like bread, whole grain flours, and crackers
  • Brown rice and wild rice
  • Wheat bran and whole oats
  • Quinoa

When considering a low carb diet for weight loss, most plans place a great emphasis on vegetables as main carb sources, with whole grains coming in second, if at all since they still have more impact on blood glucose than vegetable carbs, and so portion size is important.

The other benefit of fiber is that it keeps you full longer so you eat less, another benefit for weight management. In addition, eating a diet low in carbs and high in fiber helps to alleviate those out of control cravings for unhealthy junk food.

Low Carb Weight Loss

Low carb diets are often used for weight loss, and they have experienced a high level of popularity in recent years so much so that those looking to maintain a healthy weight and keep their blood sugar healthy to prevent diabetes have also adopted this type of eating style.

Typically, in a low carb diet the menu significantly excludes complex carbs and completely eliminates simple carbs. Most of the carbs in a low carb diet come from high fiber, low carb vegetables. Allowances differ from one diet to the next, such as the case with Atkins that prescribes an induction phase that eliminates all grains, and only allows vegetables as carb sources.

Typical Menu

  • In general, low carb diets include meat, poultry, fish and seafood protein, eggs, and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Generally, grains, nuts, and beans are limited and simple sugars are eliminated.
  • The Paleo Diet fits in well with the above while being highly nutritious and totally against processed foods altogether.
Paleo Diet - Low Carb
Foods Straight from Nature

Carb Allowance

Some diets initially restrict and then gradually increase the number of allowed carbs, such as Atkins in the Induction Phase that allows only 20 net carbs in the first two weeks. Conversely, other plans maintain the same daily limit of carbs from the beginning.

While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 45% to 65% of an adult diet come from carbs, which equals to 225 to 325 grams of carbs daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet, a low carb diet (depending on the particular plan) set limits that range from only 20 to 130 grams of carbs allowed daily. The very low carb plans will restrict carbs to 60 grams or less per day.

Low carb diets are generally considered high fat diets, with approximately 40% to 75% of calories acquired from fats, 20% from protein, and about 5% from carbohydrates.

Do low carb diets result in weight loss? Yes, they do and there is solid science behind them.

Lipolysis and Ketosis

Lipolysis occurs when the body begins to burn fat stores for energy instead of carbohydrates that are obtained from meals. The by-products of this fat burning process are ketones and ketosis is the secondary process of lipolysis.

By depriving the body of carbohydrates, which is converted to glucose and typically used as fuel, it is forced to use its fat stores instead, literally melting it off the body in a state referred to as ketosis.

According to Dr. Atkins, creator of the Atkins Diet…

“If you’re not in ketosis, you’re in “glucosis.”

Lipolysis is the most efficient biochemical path to weight loss and the scientifically proven alternative to using glucose for energy.

The only exception to the body not needing glucose for fuel is ketones.

Lipolysis and the secondary process of ketosis provides adequate fuel for cells, the brain and other organs (just as glucose from carbs does) BUT, it allows the body to burn stored fat for energy resulting in weight loss and healthy weight management.

Ketone production occurs when insulin in the bloodstream is low. The lower the insulin level, the higher the ketone production and vice versa. This process of optimal ketosis can only occur while following a low carb diet, sometimes referred to as a ketogenic diet or ket diet.

What The Science Shows

Ketogenic or low carb diets do result in weight loss. One study conducted in 2008 and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition documented a 12 pound weight loss in only 4 weeks in obese men who followed such an eating plan. The subjects noted that they had less hunger while eating fewer calories.

A National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health funded study at Stanford University (Christopher Gardner, et al) followed 311 pre-menopausal women, all of whom were overweight or obese. Each woman was randomly assigned one of four diets, which included, the Atkins diet, the Zone diet, the LEARN diet and the Ornish diet. Atkins was the lowest carb diet, the Zone diet is also a low carb diet, but higher in carbs than Atkins and the other two were normal carb, but low fat diets.

The results showed that the Atkins group of women lost the most weight with an average of 10 pounds over 12 months. The Atkins group also showed better metabolic effects.

Another study from Duke University Medical Center followed 120 obese subjects who did the Atkins diet and lost an average of 31 pounds after six months, while those who followed the American Heart Association’s low-fat plan lost only 20 pounds.

Atkins diet statistics published in 2003 in the distinguished New England Journal of Medicine stated that people on the Atkins diet lost twice as much weight during a six-month period as people who followed a low-fat diet.

The Mayo Clinic confirms that a ketogenic diet could have favorable effects on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, a low carb diet can improve levels of bad HDL cholesterol better than moderate-carbohydrate diets.


The Benefits Of Low Carb Diets

berriesWith the staggering rise in type 2 diabetes, as reported by the American Diabetes association current numbers are 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population diagnosed, more and more attention is being paid to low carb, higher protein diets.

In truth, all people need carbohydrates, protein, and fat to some degree but, in a low carb diet, the emphasis is on healthy fats and lean meats, and other forms of protein instead of simple carbohydrates.

A low carb diet focuses on protein and healthy fats as a source of nutrition, eliminating simple carbohydrates and having almost all carbohydrates in the complex form so there are no blood sugar spikes that can lead to fat deposition and type 2 diabetes.

Very low carb diets, such as the South Beach and Atkins have helped people lose weight because they provide minimal increases in blood sugar and insulin so that less of the food goes to fat and because low carb eating creates a state of Ketosis within the body making it burn stored fat for energy instead of carbohydrates from food.

Low carb diets incorporate complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, oats, green vegetables, pumpkin, corn, and beans—all of which digest slowly and contain a great deal of plant fiber that doesn’t get digested; the undigested fiber helps bowel movements come more easily and regularly.

The sugars found in these complex carbohydrates are long chain sugars that need to be broken down in the digestive tract before the simple sugars can be absorbed by the duodenum and small intestines. This gradual process eliminates wide fluctuations in sugar and insulin.

Prevent Chronic Disease

First, eating a low carb and healthy carb diet is the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Low-carb diets may also play a key role in preventing and improving serious health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Of course, any diet that results in weight loss will reduce risk for and may prevent heart disease and diabetes. Evidence exists that low-carb diets may lower bad HDL cholesterol and triglyceride values a little more than diets with moderate carb counts. However, the American College of Cardiology and The American Heart Association believe that not enough evidence exists to suggest that low-carbohydrate diets have heart health benefits.

Ketosis And Type 2 Diabetes

Nutritionists offer recommend a ketogenic diet for patients who have type 2 diabetes where the body is unable to properly use the insulin it makes to process glucose in the bloodstream.

A ketogenic diet reduces carbohydrate intake that can blood sugar levels. However, care should be taken and those with diabetes should only follow a keto diet under the supervision of a physician as a serious condition called ketoacidosis can occur if ketone levels get too high.

Weight Loss

Many people have had success in losing weight on a low carb diet. When insulin levels are kept low, this promotes the breakdown of fat into fuel instead of the other way around. Protein and healthy fats do not stimulate insulin so fatty deposition does not happen as readily.

greensLow carb diets tend to eliminate highly processed, fat, and sugar-containing foods, which are high in calories. The total calorie count is what really matters in weight loss and foods high in meat protein, vegetable protein, and healthy plant fats keep you feeling sated longer so you don’t need to overeat.

A typical low carb diet consists of lean meats, eggs, dairy, fresh whole fruits and vegetables. The whole fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber, which also lends itself to keeping you feeling fuller for longer periods. You tend to eat less because you are full quicker and a slow and gradual weight loss pattern emerges.

Low carb diets also eliminate the use of sugar-containing sodas that contain large amounts of simple sugars and that raise insulin levels very quickly. Even though there is no fat in these carbonated sodas, the high sugar content cannot possibly be used up by the cells nor can it be stored safely in the liver as glycogen. The body wants to keep the blood sugars as normal as possible so the excess glucose you taken in with sugar-containing sodas just goes to build up fat in your system. High protein and high essential fatty acid diets just don’t have this problem.

Carbs And Blood Sugar

Many people don’t realize that type 2 diabetics can have as many spikes in blood sugar as are seen in type 1 diabetics. In the case of type 2 diabetics, the problem isn’t too much or too little insulin but a chronic insulin resistance that reveals itself in spikes of blood sugar when the type 2 diabetic eats too many simple carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are the same thing as simple sugars. They include sugars like glucose, galactose, fructose, and sucrose. Of these, only sucrose is actually two simple sugars linked together but, as the molecule is still small, it can be absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract just like glucose. All sugars eventually end up as glucose, which is used by fuel for the cells.

Red Blood Cells

n the case of type 2 diabetics, when glucose floods the system after a high sugar meal, insulin levels rise but the insulin is unable to put the sugar into the cells for cellular fuel and the blood sugar spikes.

Some of the sugar is used to replenish glycogen stores in the liver but most ends up turning to fat. This is why many type 2 diabetics have a lot of fat on their body because the insulin has no place to put the spikes in glucose.

Type 2 diabetics need to monitor their intake of simple sugars in such a way as to avoid the intake of simple sugars as much as possible. Simple sugars are found in any product to which table sugar is added. For example, drinking one can of sugared soda is the equivalent of eating up to ten teaspoons of sugar. All of this sugar floods the blood system at once, overloading the pancreas, and spiking sugars. The same is true when type 2 diabetics eat too much candy, cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries that are made with a lot of sugar.

Read more about reading labels on The Low Sugar Diet by Peggy Annear, acclaimed Kindle author.

Low Sugar Diet
Low Sugar Foods

Many ice creams contain a great deal of sugar as well. All of these foods have a high glycemic index, meaning that they flood the bloodstream with sugar very quickly, forcing a sudden increase in ineffectively working insulin. The spike goes down as the insulin turns the extra glucose to fat.

In the meantime, high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes can cause end-organ damage, such as kidney disease, peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, diabetic neuropathy, and diabetic retinopathy and take years off the diabetic’s life. 

Diabetics who do not exercise will experience glucose spikes as well. Exercise helps put sugar into cells so that sedentary diabetics will not be able to use all the sugar they take in. This is especially true for those who eat mostly simple sugars.

Alternatives To Simple Sugars

Diabetics do not have to avoid carbohydrates altogether. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics eat complex carbohydrates, which in general do not cause great fluctuations in blood sugar.

Remember that complex carbohydrates are long chain sugars that can’t absorb in the body until they are broken up into smaller pieces in the gastrointestinal tract. This takes time and the blood sugar generally rises much more slowly.

If fiber is added to the mix, more delay is granted to the gastrointestinal tract and there is even less of a glucose spike because fiber holds onto sugars, letting them go gradually as the food passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

You can find complex carbohydrates in foods such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat bread products, beans, quinoa, and many non-starchy vegetables.

Avoid the juice of fruits and stick to the fruit itself. The whole fruit contains fiber, which is what keeps the simple sugar in the gut longer than the juice, which drastically increases the glucose spike noted after drinking it. Berries are lowest in sugar.


How To Start A Low Carb Diet

Not all commercial low carb diets are the same, as some are stricter than others are in the foods they allow and the total daily carb intake.

Commercial Low Carb Diets

dukan diet

  • Atkins Nutritional Program (lowest carb intake with 4 phases that increase carb intake gradually)
  • The Ketogenic Diet (high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate)
  • The Paleo Diet (Low Carb, Gluten Free – Grain Free, Dairy Free, Meat Allowed; all Natural unprocessed, “common sense” food diet)
  • Glycemic Index Diet (focuses on eating low GI foods)
  • The South Beach Diet (focuses on healthy carbs)
  • The Zone Diet (allows 40% carbs)
  • Nutrisystem Diet (based on low glycemic index with a balance of protein, carbs and fats)
  • Dukan Diet (low carb long term plan)
  • ITG Diet (3-step diet that limits carbs and targets a healthy balanced diet for long term weight maintenance)

You can start a low carb diet today simply be ridding your kitchen of highly processed foods that contain a high sugar content. Eat a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables, along with non-fried steak, chicken, seafood, fish, and eggs. Drink water, and plain tea instead of sugar-containing sodas.



Low Carb Diets Versus Low Fat Diets

You can find information all over the web and in books about various diets and their claims. There are low carb diets, low fat diets, and low calorie diets. It can be difficult to know exactly which diet is best for you with all this information around. Certainly, low carb and low fat eating plans are two of the most popular, and have been compared in studies many times over. Of course, there are pros and cons to both.

Low Carb Diets

There are many proprietary low carb diets, which are based on the idea that carbohydrates trigger insulin and cause insulin/glucose spikes. With spikes in glucose and insulin, much of the glucose in the carbohydrate diet goes to make fat. With a low carb diet, the glucose levels fluctuate less and insulin/fat production is minimized.

In low carb diets, the emphasis is placed on eating lean meats, alternative sources of protein, healthy fats and a limited amount of complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates like glucose, fructose, galactose, and sucrose (table sugar) are eliminated from the diet, which eliminates many foods that are high in calories.

Sugar-containing sodas, donuts, cake and all foods containing table sugar are completely out of the picture in a low carb diet, which means people drink more water and more unsweetened beverages, which are naturally low in calories.

Low carb diets create a state of Ketosis in the body where it begins to burn stored fat for fuel instead of the carbohydrates that one eats.

Low carb diets allow much more fat than low fat diets. Some of the fat comes from animal protein sources and ideally, a lot of the fat comes from plant sources like olive oil, cottonseed oil, and other vegetable oils. Oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats are less demanding on the arteries, producing less arterial plaques than, say, saturated fats that come from meat sources.

Still, the content of low carb diets is much fattier than low fat or high carb diets and, while these types of food taste good, some would argue that too much fat brings on too many calories to the diet. Fat is 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates are only 4 calories per gram. This means that even a little bit of fat is twice as “fattening” than either protein or carbohydrate sources. However, the proponents of low carb eating argue that since the body is burning stored fat for fuel instead of carbs from food, weight loss is inevitable.

Weight loss in a low carb diet tends to be slower than with a low fat diet because the calorie counts in low carb diets are still somewhat elevated from a strictly low calorie diet. On the other hand, protein helps keep a person fuller for a longer period of time so there is a tendency to eat less.

It is also a fact that once one reaches a state of ketosis fat loss can be quite rapid and people who follow these diets report having an abundance of energy, a significant reduction in out of control cravings (stable blood sugars) and they feel full and satisfied with less food.

Low Fat Diets

Low fat diets contain a great deal of plant carbohydrates. Plant foods like fruits and vegetables contain very little fat and yet can fill you up. You can read the label on just about anything and count fat grams, limiting fat grams per day to 10-20 fat grams.

You’ll find that many fatty meats and fried food is out of the picture in a low fat diet and weight loss tends to be more rapid.

The food may be less appetizing and you don’t get the satisfaction of eating foods containing fat but this type of diet is tolerable for those who enjoy eating lots of fruits, vegetables, fish, and de-skinned poultry.

Low fat diets tend to be harder to maintain over the long haul. There is fat in just about any type of meat and in things like beans and nuts so you have to eliminate or greatly reduce these from your diet in order to keep the fat grams down.

Your skin tends to dry out in low fat diets and, while you may lose weight, you are also missing out on plant-based oils, which contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. You need those fatty acids for cellular metabolism and to keep the cell membranes healthy so a low fat diet typically should be supplemented with vitamins.



What Diet Is Better?

While several studies have proven low carb diets to yield more weight loss in subjects than low fat varieties, in the end, the best diet is the one that you can stick with for life.

The best diet for you is one that contains foods you like to eat that are low in calories and dense in nutrients.

You need fats, protein and some complex carbohydrates in any diet so the trick is deciding which your prefer, and what works better for you in maintaining satiety, high levels of energy and weight loss.

Having said that, we strongly suggest you try a low carb diet for a month, and see how you feel.

Chances are, you will feel wonderful!

Bottom Line

Learning about carbohydrates and how they impact the body is important to ensure that you enjoy good health and gain all the benefits of a healthy body weight.

Carbohydrates are important nutrients; however, choosing healthy carbs is critical in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes. Consider for a moment how much sugar you eat every day, and likely, like millions of others you eat too much.

Low carb eating is used by millions of people around the world, and it maybe something that can be of benefit to you. Don’t forget to ask your doctor first!

Take care and stay well!

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