Low carb diets have been around for many years, and are particularly recommended for varying illnesses. Probably and most commonly prescribed, is a low carb diet for diabetics to help control blood sugar levels.
There are many reasons for following a low carb diet especially for weight loss. Men in particular tend to eat higher carb diets than women, particularly if they are fond of a pint of beer or two! Depending on what illness you may suffer, or if you are considerably overweight, a low fat, low carb diet could possibly be recommended to help your body function better.
With a small amount of knowledge or research, low carb diets can be followed relatively easily. The most common myth about low carb diets is that you should stuff yourself full of lean meats, and almost ignore the rest of the food chain. This is strictly untrue. The best low carb diet is one that is balanced and includes plenty of leafy vegetables, lean meats, certain fish, but goes easy on starchy or sugary root vegetables, such as potatoes, swede etc. and any sugar based foods or breads, pasta, rice – all high carb.
What to Eat on Low Carb Diets?
Here is a short example list of low carb diet foods,
- Salad greens (lettuce etc)
- Leafy greans (cabbage, kale, Swiss chard)
- Other salad vegetables – cucumbers, radishes, limited amount of tomatoes, green onions, peppers, celery
- Avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, aubergines
- Fresh herbs
- A limited amount of fruit, such as blueberries, peaches, apricots – but avoid high sugar fruits such as apples, oranges – definitely no bananas as they are relatively high in carbohydrates
- Lean meat – most – but if prepackaged check the nutritional values as they may have been prepared using sugar, such as honey roast ham.
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil
- Dairy – full fat should be chosen – cheeses, yoghurt, eggs
- Oily fish, but you can eat other fish
What Not to Eat on a Low Carb Diet
- Starchy or sugary vegetables, such as most root vegetables
- Any drinks including juices, that have a high sugar content
- Bread, sweets, desserts, pasta, rice
- Processed foods, including hydrogenated oils
- Fruit high in sugar content
- Jams, marmalades, preserves etc.
Full lists of what to eat and what not to eat on a low carb diet are readily available on the internet.
Low Carb Diet Plans
There are many diet plans available on the market that promise miraculous results, but in all honesty, you really should try a normal standard low carb diet provided by your doctor or health professional, and make the majority of your own foods. Everyone is different, your metabolic rate will be different from the person you sit next to. The key to a successful low carb diet is:
- Find your optimum carb level that works for you
- Find the level that prevents cravings, particularly sugar attacks
In some of the best low carb diets, these points can be referred to as ‘metabolic resistance’, ‘carbohydrate tolerance’ or ‘sugar sensitivity’. This is all jargon for finding the above two points. Low carb dieting may be something that you feel you cannot take on unless you have a full list of instructions, so if you are that kind of person, then by all means follow a low carb diet plan that you feel will work for you.
Are low carb diets healthy? Any sensible diet can be healthy if followed correctly and not to extremes, and generally, should only be followed for a period of time until you have balanced out your weight, or have any lifestyle illnesses under control. There are exceptions – a low carb diet for diabetics will be for a lifetime, as this needs to be permanently monitored and kept within the guidelines.
The benefits of low carb dieting are that you can get your weight under control, and level your blood sugars. The side effects vary from person to person, but most people do talk about the first few days being the most difficult – a little like ‘carb-withdrawal symptoms’. Most commonly talked about are ‘brain fog’ (feeling distracted, unable to concentrate etc), flu like body symptoms, lethargy, lack of energy, and generally feeling ‘rough’.
Any changes in diet will result in several weird feelings, as you are making a pretty drastic alteration to your eating pattern.
On this form of diet, a good low carb diet breakfast is recommended to kick-start the day. Eggs are particularly good first thing in the morning, and the meal options you can make with them – try –
Scrambled Eggs with chopped vegetables, such as peppers or even with smoked salmon
Eggs Florentine (with spinach)
Frittata – again with lots of chopped vegetables
If you are really into cooking, you can follow low carb non-wheat bread recipes, flax seed muffins, etc. A flax seed muffin with cream cheese and one or two cut strawberries is great to have if you are really busy first thing in the morning.
There is a difference of course between the low carb diet for women, and low carb diet for men, and in the level of activity that each person expends. A general guideline is:
Healthy, not overweight 150g 100g
Need to lose weight, moderately 100g 50g
Overweight, diabetic and sedentary 50g 25g
The bottom level of this carb intake, will put your body into ketosis, which is a state where the brain is being fed by ketone bodies, which tend to cause a loss of appetite, thus resulting in rapid weight loss.
It is important to remember that ‘low carb’, does not mean ‘no carb’. You can more or less eat all day on the correct vegetables to fill you up.
Research the subject, look at the recommended food lists and it won’t take you long to work out a very easy low carb diet plan suitable for your weight and activity level.