low carb healthy diet the pros and cons

What is a low carbohydrate diet?

low carb healthy

low carb healthy diet | a low-carbohydrate diet is a diet in which you eat as little bread, rice and pasta as possible. In practice, this means that less than 30% of the energy you consume comes from carbohydrates. Low-carb diets are often promoted online as successful dieting methods thanks to increased fat burning.

According to many proponents of the low-carb diet, this is due to fewer spikes in blood sugar levels and a more stable insulin level. Without the well-known spikes in blood sugar, you would burn more fat and store less fat. The theory sounds great, but does it really work that well to cut carbohydrates from your diet?

low-carb diet Regular diet
Carbohydrates: less than 35% Carbohydrates: 40-70%
Protein: 35-40% Protein: 15-25%
Fats: 30-40% Fats: 20-35%

Why does the low-carb diet seem to work so well?

A low-carbohydrate diet often works very well in the first weeks. You lose a few pounds and think you’ve finally found the formula for losing weight. But unfortunately… We see many people who cut carbohydrates that they have fallen back to their old weight after a few months or even weeks. Then you naturally wonder: how come?

“If you eat carbohydrates again later, you will gain weight quickly. A low-carbohydrate diet is therefore not the solution.”

The diet causes a decrease in the amount of glycogen in the body, so that you mainly lose fluid. With a low-carbohydrate diet you mainly lose body water in the first weeks. This can quickly save a few kilos. But this weight loss is not a matter of fat burning. If you eat carbohydrates again later, you will gain weight quickly.

Thus, a low-carb diet is not an effective method for long-term weight loss. You can read exactly how this works below.

But what are the longer-term effects?

The hype of a low-carbohydrate diet has arisen because various studies in 2006 and 2008 showed that it is more successful to lose weight than a regular Western diet.

But later it turned out that these studies are not that reliable at all. The lead researcher Krieger came back to his own conclusions a few years after the study was published. According to Krieger, cutting carbohydrates is not the main cause of weight loss.

Low-carb diet is difficult in social situations

The main reason why the low-carbohydrate diet is difficult to maintain is: carbohydrates are in almost everything. Just think of what you get in front of you when you’re at a party, or on vacation.

Is a low-carb diet healthy?

Besides the fact that a low-carb diet is not the most successful diet for weight loss, it is also not the most healthy diet. A low-carbohydrate diet generally does not contain enough vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber because it often contains less vegetables, fruit and grains  [6] . In addition, this diet often contains more animal products, which increases the risk of health risks [7] . Are you still planning to follow this diet? Then first consult with a dietician who will analyze your diet for possible deficiencies.

Now that the limitations are clear, the question arises: what does make you lose weight?

So what does work?

A recent study shows once again that a low-carbohydrate diet is not the formula for success, but that losing weight mainly revolves around a negative energy balance [4] . In other words, eat fewer calories than you need. In addition, research indicates that a higher protein intake leads to slightly more weight loss [4] . This is confirmed by a recent meta-analysis showing that a slightly higher protein intake leads to more weight loss after a year of dieting [5] . This is partly because you are full faster through protein-rich food and because you manage to retain more muscle mass during  weight loss . The maintenance of muscle mass is important for the success of a weight loss attempt.

“ Overweight is often a result of unhealthy repetitive habits.”

Do you think proteins are the miracle cure? No Unfortunately! A successful weight loss attempt mainly has to do with the right knowledge, coaching and support for behavioral change. Overweight is often a result of unhealthy repetitive habits. Do you want to change your diet and lose weight successfully? Don’t be alarmed: that sometimes takes a lot of energy and time. Sometimes several months or years. It is not simply solved by deleting a product group.

What about a low-carb diet?

The low-carbohydrate diet is very radical and difficult to maintain. But the little brother: the carbohydrate-restricting diet may be a solution for many people. You do not eat 30% carbohydrates as with a low-carbohydrate diet, but you reduce the amount of carbohydrates by 5 to 10%. These are not shocking adjustments and are often easy to apply and maintain. In practice, this means that, for example, you no longer drink soft drinks and snack less often. Provided you do not compensate for this with other nutrients (such as fats or proteins), this is a very suitable way to eat fewer calories.

Conclusion

Losing weight is certainly possible with a low-carbohydrate diet because you quickly achieve a negative energy balance by omitting many foods. This is often the result of fluid loss and not so much directly from fat burning. To lose weight effectively, you have to burn fat and not go for fluid loss. In short: you don’t get much out of it.

Furthermore, few people keep it up and it provides the well  known yo-yo effect . A low-carbohydrate diet is therefore perfect if you want to lose a few pounds quickly to fit into those tight pants again. It is important to realize that the low-carbohydrate diet is not healthy and often cannot be maintained for a longer period of time.

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