The low-carb lifestyle is not just ‘another fad diet’. It’s a method of enjoying your food, staying healthy through your life, and eating in a way that supports your mental and physical well-being. We all want to look and feel our best, and so much excellent research has been done now into this that we think it’s really important to understand a bit about the science behind it.
And to help you make a start, here a list of 101 low-carb foods (approx – we haven’t counted!)
Top 10 reasons for low carb living:
1. The low-carb lifestyle.
First point, this isn’t about a ‘diet’ in the old, weight loss sense of the word. It’s about your lifestyle choices. You can manage your health by keeping your carb intake at a sensible level, and manage your weight by reducing that a little further.
2. Eating low-carb foods reduces your appetite.
Because of its effects on blood sugar levels and therefore cravings, one of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to a natural reduction in your appetite. Gradually, your appetite tends to go down and you often end up eating much fewer calories without trying. To manage hunger pangs at key points in the day (11, 4 and pre-dinner snacks) we have developed some easy and quick little recipes for sweet and savoury stopgaps HERE.
3. Managing your weight with a low-carb lifestyle.
Studies show that people comsuming low-carb foods lose more weight, faster, than people restricting their fat intake… even when people are actively restricting calories. One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Because they lower insulin levels, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium, leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two (1, 2). In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, the low-carbers sometimes lose 2-3 times as much weight, without being hungry (3, 4). (It’s true – we’ve been there!) So if you find you’re losing weight, add in a portion of healthier carbs when you have reached your goal weight.
4. A low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to come from the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is known to cause serious metabolic problems. We have both subcutaneous fat (under the skin), and visceral fat (in the abdominal cavity). It this visceral fat is fat that tends to lodge around the organs and can cause serious problems. Having a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity can trigger inflammation, which leads to and exacerbates all kinds of ailments. It also increases insulin resistance, believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today (5). So a low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
5. The low-carb lifestyle is better for your heart, triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
A low-carb lifestyle is very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood and a well-known risk factor for heart disease. It will also increase the levels of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), one of the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol away from the body and into the liver, where it can be reused or excreted. The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is another very strong predictor of heart disease risk. By lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels, low-carb diets lead to a major improvement in this ratio. (6, 7, 8).
6. And has a tendency to lower blood pressure.
Having elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies show that reducing carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.
7. The effects of low-carb on Type 2 Diabetes is amazing!
When we eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract. From there, they enter the bloodstream and elevate blood sugar levels. Because high blood sugars are toxic, the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which tells the cells to bring the glucose into the cells and to start burning or storing it. For people who are insulin-resistant this can lead to Type 2 diabetes, when the body fails to secrete enough insulin to lower the blood sugar after meals. By cutting carbohydrates, you remove the need for all of that insulin – both blood sugars and insulin go way down (9, 10).
According to Dr. Eric Westman, who has treated many diabetics using a low-carb approach, he needs to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% on the first day (11).
In one study in type 2 diabetics, 95.2% had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months (12).
***If you are currently on blood sugar lowering medication, then talk to your doctor before making changes to your carbohydrate intake, because your dosage may need to be adjusted in order to prevent hypoglycaemia.***
8. It can help Metabolic Syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms that is highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Abdominal obesity
- Elevated blood pressure
- Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL levels
Amazingly, all five symptoms improve dramatically on a low-carb diet (13). Unfortunately, the government and major health organization still recommend a low-fat diet for this purpose, which is pretty much useless because it does nothing to address the underlying metabolic problem.
9. Low-Carb Diets Improve The Pattern of LDL Cholesterol.
Scientists have now shown that it is the type of LDL that matters. Low-density lipoproteins, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, are not all equal. It is the size of the particles that is important.
- Mostly small particles = high risk of heart disease.
- Mostly large particles = low risk of heart disease (14).
When you eat a low-carb diet, your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is benign. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream. Who knew?!
10. Several Brain Disorders respond well to the low-carb lifestyle.
We need a quick recap of the Ketogenic diet here:
Glucose is necessary for the brain and that’s why the liver produces glucose out of protein if we don’t eat any carbs. But a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low. This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment (15). Very low-carb/ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain disorders as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (16).
Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. Which makes it even more amazing that we can still find sweets at the checkout, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate in vending machines in sports halls, hospitals, schools, blah blah blah! After 40 years preaching this I feel like a stuck record…..
Print out this list of 101 low-carb foods and get going. What have you got to lose?
This is a synopsis of the article written by Kris Gunnars BSc for www.healthline.com. (For more information and some of the research, click on the hyperlinks.)
For more excellent medical information, visit http://thenoakesfoundation.org
For help with diet and recipes, see https://www.dietdoctor.com