Low carb diets have been around for years, but there role in health has been questionable. Based on principle that if you cut carbohydrates out of your diet and replace them with fat and protein, these diets have been linked to improving performance and glucose control, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
So what is the truth about low carb diets? Are they good for you? Do carbs really make you fat? Get the facts about low carb diets.
What Are Carbs
If you're confused about carbohydrates, you're not alone. Carbs are one of the six nutrients used by the body for energy and 1 gram is worth 4 calories. Carbs are important because they:
- Are the main main source of fuel for the body
- Are quickly and easily used by the body for energy
- Can be stored in the muscles for exercise
- Provide lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber
- Help your body function properly without fatigue
The confusing part is that there are different types of carbs, some that can contribute to weight loss and some that make it harder. Carbs aren't inherently bad; eating too much of anything can cause weight gain. However, learning to choose carbs that offer more fiber, vitamins and minerals will make losing weight easier.
Simple carbs such as candy, sodas, and juice are quickly digested and can be used immediately for energy.
However, they also spike blood glucose levels, which inevitably leads to a crash when your blood sugar drops. Simple carbs (such as honey) can be an ideal choice just before an intense cardio workout like sprints, but they're not a great choice for snacks or meals since they can leave you hungry and tired.
Complex carbs take longer to digest and come from things like whole grain products, vegetables, and fruits. They are slowly released into the body, unlike simple carbs, so you don't get that sugar rush followed by the painful sugar crash.
Regardless of the type of carbs you eat, all are treated the same way in your body — they are all broken down into sugars during digestion. But, complex carbs are almost always the best choice because they are naturally low in fat, high in fiber, and provide tons of vitamins and minerals.
The Thinking Behind Low-Carb
Every low-carb diet is different and requires varying amounts of carbs, protein and fat. However, the common theme is this: eating high-carb causes an overproduction of insulin which leads to overeating, obesity and insulin resistance.
Here's how carbs work:
- High-carb foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar
- This blood sugar causes the body to produce insulin which carries nutrients to cells
- Our cells use this sugar for energy
- If there's too much sugar, it is stored as fat
Proponents of low-carb diets believe that when you eat too many carbs, insulin becomes less effective at carrying sugar to the cells which results in more sugar being stored as fat and the condition called insulin resistance.
It is thought that 75 percent of Americans are insulin resistant, which sets the body up for type 2 diabetes and obesity