Low-carb diets have gained popularity over the years, thanks to the many health benefits linked to them. The diet is generally low on carbs and encourages the consumption of foods high in healthy fats, protein, and vitamins. Low-carb diets are linked to health benefits such as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, aiding in weight loss, reduced blood pressure, and heart disease. You should be careful with your food choices as low carb foods from unhealthy can do more harm than good to your weight loss journey and health as a whole.
What are some of the low-carb diets?
This diet plan is widely known as the best low-carb diet. The diet restricts all the high-carb foods while promoting a high consumption of fat and proteins. It has four phases that start with low consumption of carbs (less than 20g), then introducing more healthy carbs gradually until your body can tolerate the carbs without gaining back the lost weight. Theirs is a vegan version of Atkins called Eco-Atkins, and it encourages the consumption of high fat and protein foods from plants.
Paleo diet encourages eating unprocessed foods that were available in the Paleolithic era. This is the era before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Low-carb Paleo diet encourages the consumption of nuts, fruits, seeds, vegetables, and meat while discouraging processed foods such as grains, dairy products, and added sugar and legumes.
- Mediterranean diet
This diet is based on eating patterns of Mediterranean countries in the 20th century. It emphasized on traditional foods. A low carb Mediterranean diet encourages the consumption of fatty fish to replace red meat, virgin oil instead of butter. It also limits high carbs from whole grains.
- Keto diet
Keto diet is famous for its health benefits. The diet encourages a high consumption of fats and low consumption of carbs. A typical Keto diet consists of 70-80% fat intake, 10-20% proteins, and 5-10% carb intake. Carb consumption is restricted to less than 50 per day. Reducing your carb intake while increasing the fat intake puts your body into ketosis. This is a metabolic state in which the body burns fat into ketones in the liver when there are low carbs in the body.
Health benefits of Keto diet
- Keto helps in weight loss.
When your body is put into ketosis, the body will burn fats for energy. Thus you’ll lose body fat and improve your weight loss journey. The diet is also filling. Thus it prevents you from eating unnecessarily, which can be detrimental to your weight loss journey.
- Keto helps reduce heart disease.
Keto promotes HDL, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar, all of which help fight heart disease.
- Keto helps reduce Alzheimer’s disease.
This disease is common among older adults, but Keto can help slow the progression of the disease.
- Keto helps reduce acne problems.
Avoiding processed foods and sugary foods on the Keto diet help improve acne and lower insulin levels.
Which foods should you eat on a low-carb diet?
You should aim for unprocessed low-carb foods for successful weight loss and other health benefits. Some of the foods that you can eat on a low carb diet include:
Nuts are very nutritious, high in healthy fats, and many are low in carbs. Nuts such as pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts are low in carbs and can form part of Keto-friendly meals and snacks. Some nuts such as cashew nuts, pine tend to be high in carbs; thus, you should moderate their consumption. Sunflower seeds are an excellent option to add to your diet.
- Non-starchy vegetables
Non-starchy vegetables are low in carbs, and they can form the healthy side of a low carb diet. This will help you lose weight in the long run and improve your health. Options you can go for include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, and spinach.
Fruits such as avocado are high in healthy fats and can be an excellent addition to a high-fat, low-carb diet like Keto. Other fruits that are low in carbs are strawberry, melon, oranges, apples, and pears.
Meat is an excellent protein source and can be added to your low-carb diet. Grass-fed meat is the best option you can choose. Some options include chicken, lamb, pork, and beef.
Oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil can provide high fats. Fats such as butter can be a good option too.
High-fat dairy such as Greek yogurt, cream, cheese can provide high fat.
Fish is a good source of proteins and omega 3 fatty acids. You can go for options like salmon. Seafood such as shrimp can be an excellent addition.
Other options include eggs, olives, unrefined grains, dark chocolate.
Which foods should you avoid on a low carb diet?
Some foods are high in carbs and sugars; thus, they should be limited or avoided if you want to lose weight. Reading nutrition labels of all foods is essential because some foods are labeled as healthy but contain unhealthy ingredients. Here are foods that you should avoid in your diet include:
- Sugary drinks
Apart from putting you at risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, diabetes, and sugary foods, it is also detrimental to your weight loss journey. Avoid fruit juices, ice cream, soft drinks, and any sweet drink that has added sugar.
- Starchy vegetables
Limit your consumption of starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes if you want to follow a low carb diet.
- Refined grains
Refined grains are high in carbs, and some have added sugar. Avoid foods such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and wheat.
- Processed foods
Processed foods have added sugar, and others have trans fat, which can be detrimental to weight loss and general health. Avoid cookies, candies, chips, crackers.
Other foods that you can avoid are beans, lentils, milk.
What do you need to do for long-term weight loss?
If you want to lose weight, a healthy and long-term way, you have to consume healthy foods and increase your level of physical activity. Exercising more often will help you lose fat. Home aerobics can be a good start if you’re ready to go to the gym. Some of the exercises include skipping, stair training, donkey kicks squat jacks.
You can also try some simple and fun exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga to increase your metabolism rate, which in you will make you burn more calories and lose weight.
You can opt for a gym membership and do some weight training to lose fat or gain muscle.
For optimum health and weight loss, drink at least eight glasses of water (about 2L) a day. Water also helps in weight loss as it helps reduce your appetite for eating and unnecessary snacking by making you feel full.
Drinking water can help you replace high sugar beverages such as fruit juices, energy drinks, and ice cream, which can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Much researches have shown that water increases the number of calories burned while the body is at rest, better known as resting energy expenditure. Water is also useful in the metabolism of stored fat and carbs.
Should you take dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements can be used to fill the nutritional gaps that you get when eating real food. Supplements can help you boost your intake of nutrients, but some might have side effects on you; thus, you should discuss with your doctor before you take a supplement. Here are some important information to note when looking for supplements.
- Check the nutrition label. Check the name of the supplement and the list of ingredients and the serving size.
- Checking the certification of the supplement by the verification organizations is also essential. Some of the verification labels you can look at including a blue and yellow seal from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or a symbol from NSF International or Consumer Lab.com.
- Check the nutrient composition of the supplement. It’s not advisable to exceed the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for any nutrient.