Ana Theresa Williams BSN RN
I really don’t follow any type of “strict diet,” but low-carb diet has been very contro-versial in so many ways. It’s a matter of knowing more about what low-carb diet can do and not do for you.
A low-carb diet limits carbohydrates — such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. Many types of low-carb diets exist. Each diet has varying restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat.
A low-carb diet is generally used for losing weight, and some low-carb diets may have health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reducing risk factors associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
You might choose to follow a low-carb diet because you want a diet that restricts certain carbs to help you lose weight, want to change your overall eating habits, and enjoy the types and amounts of foods featured in low-carb diets.
Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.
As the name says, a low-carb diet restricts the type and amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates are a type of calorie-providing macronutrient found in many foods and beverages.
Many carbohydrates occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. In natural form, carbohydrates can be thought of as complex and fibrous such as the carbo-hydrates found in whole grains and legumes, or they can be less complex such as those found in milk and fruit. Common sources of naturally occurring carbo-hydrates include grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, seeds, and legumes like beans, lentils and peas.
Your body uses carbo-hydrates as its main fuel source. Sugars and star-ches are broken down into simple sugars during diges-tion. They’re then absorbed into your bloodstream, where they’re known as blood sugar (glucose). Fiber-containing carbohy-drates resist digestion, and although they have less effect on blood sugar, complex carbohydrates provide bulk and serve other body functions beyond fuel.
Rising levels of blood sugar trigger the body to release insulin. Insulin helps glucose enter your body’s cells. Some glucose is used by your body for energy, fueling all of your activities, whether it’s going for a jog or simply breathing. Extra glucose is usually stored in your liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to fat.
The idea behind the low-carb diet is that decreasing carbs lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored fat for energy and ultimately leads to weight loss.
However, on the other hand, a report from the American Heart Associa-tion, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to say whether most low-carbohydrate diets provide heart-healthy benefits.
If you suddenly and drastically cut carbs, you may experience a variety of temporary health effects, including headache, bad breath, weakness, fatigue, constipation or diarrhea.
In addition, some diets restrict carbohydrate intake so much that in the long term they can result in vitamin or mineral deficien-cies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal distur-bances and may increase risks for various chronic diseases.
Severely restricting carbohydrates to less than 20 grams a day can result in a process called ketosis. Ketosis occurs when you don’t have enough sugar (glucose) for energy, so your body breaks down stored fat, causing ketones to build up in your body. Side effects from ketosis can include nausea, headache, mental and physical fatigue, and bad breath.
It’s not clear what kind of possible long-term health risks a low-carb diet may pose because most research studies have lasted less than a year. But some health experts believe that if you eat large amounts of fat and protein from animal sources your risk of heart disease or certain cancers may actually increase.
HEALTHWATCHING: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35,37