Remember the Atkins diet fad of the 90’s? The extremely restrictive regiment had doctors and nutritionists up in arms because it required people to eliminate nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables from the menu. Then, the Southbeach Diet came into play and quickly faded out. Then came the Paleo Diet and so on. Each was a slightly different version of the same plan: the low carbohydrate diet.
There are some principles these 3 diets share that makes them so effective (despite their various nutrient profiles). All 3 diets (Southbeach to a lesser extent) rely on a natural process called ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body pulls energy from ketone bodies in the blood, instead of pulling energy from blood glucose, which is usually provided by the food we eat (high carbohydrate foods provide the highest glucose numbers). When you body is in a state of ketosis, it burns much more fat than what it might burn during a restricted calorie diet alone. To start ketosis and keep it going, you’ll have to eat less than 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrate per day, which is about 5 percent of your overall calories for the day.
Most experts agree that ketosis is one of the most powerful ways to lose weight, but results will obviously differ depending on your current weight, height and BMI. Here is a quick ketosis calculator that you can use to get a good idea of how much weight you might lose.
No matter which strategy you use to achieve ketosis, you will definitely need to follow a low carbohydrate diet regiment. So, we’ve written this blog post to answer the 3 most common questions we receive about this kind of diet.
1. What is a low carboydrate diet, and how can it help you lose weight?
A low carb diet consists of cutting simple carbs out of your diet; cakes, rice, pasta, bread, etc. I say simple carbs because fruits and vegetables are technically carbohydrates. However, they are complex carbs with low-glycemic levels. This matters because high- glycemic (simple carb) foods will spike your blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates are broken down into the sugar they are originally made out of and digested as such. When this happens, your body uses this “quick fix” sugar as energy instead of preexisting stored fat.
Now, cutting carbs usually means ingesting less than 50 grams of carbs a day while increasing lean protein and more so healthy fats. In doing so, your body will go into ketosis, which means instead of having to burn off the ingested carbs for fuel, it will resort to burning off preexisting, stored fat instead.
“Ketosis occurs when blood ketones are higher than normal,” says Alissa Rumsey M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “When you only eat a very limited amount of carbs, your body breaks down fatty acids from fat stores and forms ketones, which are released into the bloodstream by the liver.”
2. What are some mistakes people make when adopting this diet?
The reason some people “fail” on this diet is that they focus solely on cutting carbohydrates alone without adding in food groups that are nutrient rich and rich in healthy fats, such as: avocados, eggs, nut butter, fish oil, coconut oils and more. Now, many of our patients are concerned about eating coconut oil since the American Hearth Association warning earlier in 2017. However, we believe that coconut oil, when used in moderation, can still be a beneficial part of a healthy diet plan.
The reason we need an increase in fat is because fat and protein are what makes the body sustainable on its own. It’s known that our bodies produce enough natural glucose without the influx of adding any to keep us going. Now, athletes “carb up” because they need something to burn before their bodies resort to burning what’s already there (in other words they need the extended energy). However, our body needs fat to support brain function, a healthy immune system and to sustain us throughout the day as well. It always comes down to balance, so if you are not sure how much fat is enough (or too much) our medical weight loss professionals can help.
3. How can I adopt low carbohydrate diet principles in a healthy, sustainable way?
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? A perfectionist mentality is damaging to most diet plans (depending on your personality, of course). However, we find our patients do best when they aim for following low carbohydrate principles 80% of the time – in doing so they actually reach 100% success! How does this look practically?
For 80% of the time, follow a whole food, low carb diet. This means chicken, broccoli, and kabocha squash (a low carb squash) cooked in coconut or olive oil. The other 20% of the time, enjoy your favorite carbs in moderation. This is my suggestion to anyone. Once or twice a week, have your dose of unhealthy carbs.
“Everything is in moderation” includes eating healthfully 24/7 to avoid crashing or rebelling from your diet. If you restrict yourself too much, chances are you will go off and binge…and once you binge, it’s even hard to get back on track than it was to start in the first place!
Want to know more about our plans? We offer a low fat diet, high energy diet, VLCD diet and Vitamin B 12 supported diet in addition to our low carb diet plan. Give our experts a call, and we will find the one that meets your needs and gets you where you want to be – bikini body style!