Low Carbohydrate Diet
- What is a Low Carbohydrate Diet ?
- Why should you follow a low carbohydrate diet ?
- Common Mistakes when following a low carbohydrate diet.
Why should you follow a low carbohydrate diet ?
The anti-carbohydrate revolution boasts that a diet higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates may be your best solution for weight loss, balancing cholesterol levels and lowering blood sugar levels.
Too much insulin, caused from eating a higher carbohydrate diet, is the primary cause of many diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar levels, heart disease, hypertension, gout, diabetes, obesity, plus many more.
When eating a diet higher in carbohydrates, typically the intake of other macronutrients such as protein and healthy fats is not optimal. Not only do you experience the effects of a high carbohydrate diet as mentioned above, but because of lower intake of other foods, you experience symptoms such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Muscle aches and pains, lack of energy and motivation, inability to heal, increased stress to the body, plus many more chronic symptoms.
A lower carbohydrate, adequate protein, healthy fat intake is the diet for optimal health. It will provide you with:
1. Weight loss and a leaner look
Carbohydrates will be used preferentially as an energy source if available. A lower carbohydrate diet will open up metabolic pathways, allowing for optimal burning of body fat for high energy. Increased protein intake will allow you to hold onto that precious muscle which allows for building and repair of broken down tissue as well as a firm, tone look.
2. Regulation of blood sugar highs and lows
Excess carbohydrates can rapidly increase sugar and insulin levels. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin levels (a hormone that is produced by the pancreas) rise accordingly, to eventually lower blood sugar levels. A high carbohydrate intake will create a cycle of high sugar levels followed by a drop, which triggers the body into wanting even more carbohydrates. This is a vicious cycle that is hard to control, leading to symptoms of irritability, fatigue, depressions, cravings and concentration impairment.
3. Improved cholesterol or blood lipid levels
Excess insulin levels, produced by excess carbohydrate intake will stimulate the liver to produce excess cholesterol. Approximately only 25% of dietary intake of cholesterol-based foods will be reflected in total cholesterol levels. Trigylceride levels are reflective of carbohydrate intake. A lower carbohydrate diet will typically show a decrease in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
4. Lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Insulin resistance or syndrome X is a condition in which the body produces high insulin levels and blood sugar levels remain high because of the cells inability to respond to insulin's blood sugar lowering effect. This syndrome not only leads to excess storage of fat but also increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, venous stagnation and other cardiac and circulatory problems. A lower carbohydrate diet keeps insulin and blood sugar levels lower.
5. Freedom from carbohydrate cravings
The more processed foods containing white flour and sugar you eat, the more you are victim to their addictive, metabolic effects. Foods such as pastries, cookies, candies, bagels, muffins, breads, crackers, etc. are triggers for carbohydrate binges. The initial increase in blood sugar levels after eating processed foods will eventually leave you feeling hungry, shaky, weak and wanting even more empty calories for a quick pick me up. Once you rid your body of these forbidden foods, cravings will decrease rapidly.
6. Increased muscle strength, stronger hair, nails and healthier skin
Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are mainly used as structural material to build, repair and replace tissues such as muscle, skin, bones, hair, hormones and enzymes. Without adequate protein in your diet, you body doesn't have available the nutrients for cellular repair and you will be well on your way to premature aging.
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What is a Low Carbohydrate Diet?
A low carbohydrate diet is on based on:
Adequate protein means:
Eating a source of lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, cottage cheese or tofu at each meal. Everyone's protein requirement is different. The larger and more active you are, the more protein you need.
Fibrous, crispy vegetables include:
Asparagus, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peppers, spinach, lettuces, radishes, mushrooms, celery, tomatoes, onions, carrots, etc.
Whole grains include:
Small portions of high fibrous breads, 1/2 cup cooked- beans, brown rice, and oatmeal. No "instant" foods.
Choice fruits include:
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, Marion berries, etc. Small portions of apples, grapes, citrus fruits and melons are acceptable too.
Starchy, sweet foods to avoid:
White sugar and white flour based foods, desserts, instant foods, potatoes, refined grains, etc.
Healthy sources of Fats:
Raw nuts, seeds, nut butters (peanut, almond hazelnut), olives, avocados, olive oil, nut oils, flax seeds and flax oil
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Common Mistakes when following a low carbohydrate diet
Not eating the proper amount of protein for your body size and activity level.
Ideally, protein requirements are calculated by multiplying lean body mass by activity level. Generally speaking, if you are a moderately active person, multiply your weight by .7 or .8 (more active people use.8) and this will give you your approximate protein intake in grams per day. This can be divided into 3 meals and 2 snacks. Protein is what fuels your metabolic pathways. Too little protein or too much protein can either inhibit your body's ability to be an efficient fat burner, or store excess calories as fat.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast lowers your blood sugar level, positioning you to crave carbohydrates or eat more quantity than needed at your next meal. Symptoms of low blood sugar levels are light-headedness, fatigue, depression, headache and irritability.
Not eating enough fiber
High fibrous foods encouraged on a low carbohydrate diet are the crispy, watery vegetables. Small amounts of whole grain based foods and some fruits-especially berries are also recommended. Low intake of these foods can cause constipation, which slows weight loss and can lead to other health problems such as colon cancer and higher cholesterol levels.
Not understanding Label Reading
Not knowing what a label really says can lead to excess carbohydrate and caloric intake. Total carbohydrates minus any fiber grams will give you the amount of carbohydrate that will cause a blood sugar increase, or the effective carbohydrates that are counted. Labels that state "fat free" or "sugar free" will have extra carbohydrate or fat calories. Sugar alcohols have some blood sugar effect so half of the sugar alcohol content needs to be counted as part of effective carbohydrates-those that trigger a blood sugar increase.
Boredom or lack of imagination
Eating the same foods repeatedly allows for ease in preparing meals but eventually will make you feel like you're in a rut. Rotate foods, try new recipes, and take the time to make meal preparation a priority. Different sauces, dips, marinades and toppings create a variety of choices for that same basic piece of chicken, fish or meat.
Not drinking enough water
Increased intake of protein requires an increased amount of water to metabolize protein. To determine your daily water intake requirements multiply your total body weight by .69 then divide by 32 for the number of quarts of water needed each day. Get a 32ounce water bottle and place the number of rubber bands around it needed for your daily water intake. Each time you finish a quart, remove a rubber band until you have removed them all!
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