Over the years, low-carb intake has been a favorite catch phrase that has been used by many diets meant for achieving weight loss. Some low-carb diets attained a large amount of publicity and became so popular that they were termed as a ‘craze’. Though it can be argued whether or not these diets are effective, healthy or practical, the subject matter of this article is not to evaluate different low-carb diets. This article shall focus on the principles on which most of them are based.
The unique selling proposition (USP) used by many low-carb diets is that depriving the body of carbohydrates converts the body from a ‘carbohydrate burning engine’ to a ‘fat burning engine’. It suggests that if you restrict carbohydrates to the bare minimum, the body starts burning its own fats for energy, which helps you to lose weight.
The theory goes on to state that initially, when the body is starved of carbohydrates, it initiates a state of ‘dietary ketosis’, which is an abnormal increase in ketone bodies. A ketone is an intermediate product of the breakdown of fats in the body, and ketosis is associated with diabetes mellitus. Low-carb diets claim that a body in ketosis gets energy from ketones: little carbon fragments created by breakdown of fats serve as fuel. Ketosis also reduces hunger and you eat less than before. Once this is achieved, the restriction on carbohydrate intake remains, but certain new carbohydrates are added to provide variety to the diet. Refined sugars and grains are not to be taken throughout life.
The reality of the low-carb diet, however, is that it is a diet that achieves results by using an ‘unhealthy metabolic path’, as ketosis leads to early stages of diabetes. The proponents of the diet, however, state that the body reverts to normal metabolism in due time.
Obesity is not only something that makes you look fat, it is also a harbinger of various medical complications like cardiovascular disease. Losing weight through healthy weight loss plans is a preferred option rather than taking the risk of ‘unhealthy metabolic paths’.
The human body needs all classes of nutrients for healthy metabolism, which are required to maintain energy levels and to sustain life. It is therefore necessary that adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber are consumed along with adequate amounts of water and fluids. Moreover, any diet that promises fast weight loss is either misleading or dishonest. The best plan is to eat small quantities of all food groups – meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy products. Make healthy food choices and follow an active lifestyle, preferably accompanied by mild to moderate daily exercise.