Eat less carbs – a sure way to lose weight

Carbs – good or bad?

In the last decade the most heated discussions on the topic of weight loss have been about Carbohydrates. In one corner there’s a conservative establishment saying you need to eat plenty of carbohydrates for the body to function well, and in the other corner there are enthusiastic low-carb supporters claiming that carbohydrates are the main cause of obesity.

Do carbs make me fat?

Our food contains three main nutrients; protein, fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come in the form of sugar, starch and fibre and are common in food such as potatoes, pasta, flour, sweets and fruit. The body converts carbohydrates into glucose and distributes it throughout the body as blood sugar, which is the preferred fuel for the muscles and the brain.

Carbohydrates don’t lead to obesity by themselves, but do make the body produce insulin, which is bad for weight loss.

When the blood sugar levels become elevated after a carbohydrate meal, insulin is produced as a response. Insulin tells the body to store blood sugar in the liver, muscles and as fat. The higher the level of insulin, the more fat is stored. The amount of insulin produced depends on how much carbohydrate you’ve eaten and the GI value of those carbohydrates.

Read more about GI here, and about how insulin affects you here.

“Normal” food contains around 200-400 grams of carbohydrates per day. When you eat only 20-50 grams per day, the body will switch its metabolism from “carb-burning mode” to “fat-burning mode”, called Ketosis. In ketosis, the dietary fat is split into ketones which are used as fuel instead of the blood sugar. This is a body process that helped cave-men survive during hard winters with only meat to eat. Some claim that ketosis can be dangerous, but solid proof has yet to be presented. During ketosis, the body burns more energy than otherwise which leads to a rapid weight loss. Also, the very low amounts of insulin removes sugar cravings and makes you less hungry.

Low carb dieting has been proven good for diabetics, who can often reduce their medication when eating low carb.

Low carb is a good choice if you…

  • Want to lose a lot of weight
  • Suffer from sugar cravings
  • Rather enjoy cheese and tasty sauces than pasta and bread
  • Are motivated enough to learn to eat in a new way
  • Can handle not being able to eat everything on the restaurant menu
  • Have diabetes or prediabetes (check with your doctor first)
  • Have tried a lot of diets with little success

How do I do it? How do I low carb?

There are several ways to lose weight by reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your food:

1. Low carb diets

You would think from the polemic discussions that the concept of limiting the amount of carbohydrates to lose weight is modern, but it is more than 150 years old. The father of dieting, William Banting, lost more than 20 kilos in a year in the middle of the 19th century through low carb dieting.

One of the first and most famous low carb diet plans is the Atkins diet. Since it’s arrival in 1972, several other low carb diets have popped up. When you follow the Atkins diet you trigger Ketosis, and when you have reached your goal weight you add low GI carbs until the weight loss stops, preferably remaining in ketosis.

The relatively new diet LCHF, Low Carb High Fat, takes it one step further and aims to eat zero carbs and instead increase the amount of dietary fat, since fat increases the metabolism and keeps you full longer.

These diets are pretty strict and could be hard to follow if you don’t know exactly what you can and can’t eat. They are great for people who have tried different diets before and failed, since they may be oversensitive to carbohydrates – the only way for them to lose weight may be to eat following the low carb principle.

Some less strict diets that follow the low GI and low carb mentality are for example the GI diet, the Montignac diet and the South Beach Diet.

2. Food supplements reducing the absorption of carbohydrates

There are two kinds of food supplements that can reduce the negative effect that carbs have on the blood sugar levels, lowering the GI and the insulin response:

PhaseLite – white kidney beans inhibit the enzyme alpha amylase which lowers the blood sugar level. Phaselite can be found in diet pills such as DEcarb.
Chlorogenic acid inhibits the body’s absorption of glucose which leads to a lower blood sugar level.

3. Diet pills for people wanting to cut down on carbohydrates

There are no diet pills yet that stop the carbs in the food from being absorbed by the body (although many claim they do), but there are several that even out the blood sugar curve and lowers the GI. This could be helpful for those who follow a low carb diet, but want to “sin” sometimes (birthday cake, beer, a fancy dinner) and want to diminish the negative consequences.

Check out DEcarb, with a “carb blocking” effect.

4. Low carb weight loss clubs

Cutting down on carbohydrates isn’t easy. There are many pitfalls, especially with diets such as Atkins and LCHF that use Ketosis, where you need to keep a very close eye on how many carbs different foods contain for the diet to be effective.

Therefore it might be helpful to join a weight loss club where you can get menus, carb-counters and many other means of assistance. Check out for example Tescodiets.com, good luck!

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