It's no wonder that confusion reigns when it comes to the worth and reliability of low-carb diets after all the conflicting studies and confusing interpretation of the information. It seems like debates are popping up everywhere!
No matter if it's Atkins, South Beach or some other low-carb plan, approximately 30 million Americans are on a low-carb diet.
Supporters contend that the large amount of carbohydrates in our diet has led to increased problems with obesity, diabetes, and other health situations. On the other hand, some attribute obesity and related health problems to over eating of calories and lack of physical activity. They also express concern that without grains, fruits, and vegetables in low-carbohydrate diets may lead to deficiencies of some key nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, and many minerals.
It is already known that any diet, whether high or low in carbohydrates, can produce meaningful weight loss during the early stages of the diet. Keep in mind, the key to a diet being successful is in being able to lose the weight on a permanent basis.
Let's see if we can expose some of the mystery about low-carb diets. Following, is a listing of some related points taken from recent studies and scientific literature.
Point 1 - Some Differences Between Low-Carb Diets
There are many famous diets created to lower carbohydrate consumption. Lowering total carbohydrates in the diet means that protein and fat will take up a proportionately greater amount of the total caloric intake.
Low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins Diet restrict carbohydrate to a point where the body becomes ketogenic (a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that includes normal amounts of protein). Other low-carb diets like the Zone and Life Without Bread are less confined. Some, like Sugar Busters announce only
to eliminate sugars and foods that elevate blood sugar levels excessively.
Point 2 - What We Know about Low-Carb Diets
+Close to all of the studies to date have been small with a diversity of research objectives.
Carbohydrate, caloric intake, diet duration and participant characteristics are wide-ranged greatly. Most of the studies to date have two things in common, none of the research studies had people in the study with an average age over 53 and none of the controlled studies lasted more than 90 days.
+The results on older adults and long-term results are scarce. Many diet studies fail to keep track of the amount of exercise, and therefore caloric use, while people in the study are dieting. This helps to explain the variances between studies.
+If you lose weight on a low-carb diet it is a function of the calorie intake and length of the diet, and not with reduced amount of carbohydrates.
+There is very little evidence on the long-range safety of low-carb diets. Even though the medical community has concerns, no short-term bad effects have been found with cholesterol, glucose, insulin and blood-pressure levels among the people in the study on the diets. Because of the short period of the studies the adverse effects may not show up. Losing weight typically leads to improvement in these levels, and this may offset an increase caused by a high fat diet. The over-all weight changes for low-carb and other types of diets are similar.
+Most low-carb diets can cause ketosis. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and confusion are some of the potential consequences. When first starting a low-carb diet some fatigue and constipation may be met and these symptoms usually disappear quickly.
+Some report that you can have more calories when on a low-carb diet. Remember a calorie is a calorie no matter what you intake. When the study is not closely supervised variations will result by people cheating in the study on many factors of the study.
There are three important factors I would like to re-emphasize:
1.- The overall success rate for low-carb and other types of diets are similar.
2.- Small amount of information exists on the long-term efficacy and safety of low-carb diets despite their huge popularity,
3.- Dieters usually experience boredom with a strict version of the low-carb diet and are not able to stay on diets of low carb food.
After observing the subject, a more severe and controlled study is needed on a long-range basis. The ketosis produced is abnormal and stressful metabolic state. The results may cause more problems than they solve.
By picking a reliable diet you will benefit over a lifetime of proper eating and not a weight loss quickie.
An excellent rule of thumb is look at the diet long-range and see if you can see yourself still on that diet after a couple of weeks. However, by following a diet with fat, carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients in moderation may be the best way to go and a little more exercise won't hurt either.
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