Low Carb is arguably the most popular form of dieting in the world, thanks in great part to the many Hollywood stars and fashion models who swear by low carb diets, and to the intensive medical research into this form of weight loss and health maintenance.
Carbohydrates are natural compounds that include starches, celluloses, sugars, and gums and provide a major energy source in our diet. Starchy vegetables like potatoes as well as grains, pastas, and fruits are the most common carbohydrate foods.
Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the bloodstream, raising the blood sugar levels. Low carb diets hope to prevent triggering exorbitant surges of insulin that functions to combust the blood sugar into energy. Insulin performs a critical function in the body by reducing blood sugar levels and bringing them under control. When blood sugar climbs to inordinate levels, the insulin drives that excess glucose into the fat cells. To put it in simpler terms, too much insulin makes us “get fat”.
The glycemic index (GI) was conceived in 1981 by Dr. David Jenkins as a means to help diabetics select their foods. The greater the number on the GI, the faster the carbohydrates are set free. The carbohydrates that release rapidly into the body are the culprits that cause abrupt surges in insulin. Over time, those high upswings of insulin can induce the body to become insulin resistance (Syndrome X).
Health issues that experts have associated with blood sugar are obesity, diabetes, heart disease, headaches, loss of energy, chronic fatigue, elevated triglycerides, premenstrual syndrome, depression, and yeast infections.
Research has focused on reducing calories by means of a lo carb diet (Zone diet, Atkins diet, Scarsdale diet, etc.) versus low-fat diets (Ornish diet, LEARN diet, etc.). These studies have established that low carb diets, based on vegetables as the sources of protein and fat are linked to less coronary heart disease.
Random, controlled tests determined that fat-restricted diets are no more efficient than calorie restricted diets in accomplishing long term weight loss in obese or overweight people. However, possible beneficial changes in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride values should be measured against potentially unfavorable shifts in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol values when low-carb diets are employed to induce weight loss.
A supervised Dietary Modification Trial discovered that a diet limiting total fat to 20%, and an increased consumption of and fruits and vegetables to at least 5 servings per day, and at least 6 servings grains of daily resulted in:
- No decrease in cardiovascular disease
- An negligible reduction in invasive breast cancer
- No decrease in colorectal cancer
A comparison of the Zone, Atkins, Ornish, and LEARN diets in premenopausal women determined that the greatest benefit resulted from the Atkins diet. The selection of a particular diet for a specific person may be prompted by measuring the insulin secretion of the individual.
Reducing the glycemic [carbohydrate] load in young adults may be especially significant to achieve weight loss among patients with high insulin secretion. This is compatible with prior research of diabetic diets in which low carb diets were more advantageous.
In 2008, the American Diabetes Association released for the first time a Clinical Practice Recommendation, for those with or at risk of Type 2 diabetes, for a low carb diet to reduce weight.