Going low-carb has remained popular over the years and has been around since the late 1800s. I will try my best to lay out the pros and cons of a low-carb diet and who could benefit from this protocol without being TOO biased. 😉
The low-carb diet has cleverly masqueraded as the Atkins diet, Paleo, Dukan Diet, and now the infamous ketogenic diet. All of them primarily condone eating animal protein, healthy fats, and very limited (if any) grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and anything containing sugar (carbs). While this may appear to be a grand idea at first, especially because society associates sugar with being “bad”, we need to look at the full picture here.
Typically, the Average Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrates is from 45-65%. For a 2,000 calorie diet, that amounts to 225-325g. Many studies define a low-carb diet as anything <130g, and a very low-carb diet as anything <20-50g. Below is a chart depicting what the Atkins diet, Paleo Diet, and Ketogenic recommend/require from macronutrient distributions compared to that of the recommended ranges.
So, why do people choose the diets above? Good question. The main motivator is weight loss. When people cut carbs that retain water, minimize their overconsumption of carbs that convert into fat, and focus on their intake of whole food proteins and fat, weight loss is bound to occur in those who have some to lose. However, this weight loss is typically short-term and regained after a period of time because reintroducing carbs has an adverse effect from restricting it for so long…you start to retain that water again, you might even over consume by excess portions, and just feel like you’re losing control again. The list goes on and on.
In addition, if your body is not in a true and constant state of ketosis (using ketones as energy), low-carb diets under the recommended 130g for DIABETICS will ultimately make you crave…you guessed it…carbs! This could partly be why you are craving sweets- because you are not consuming enough carbohydrates or not the right sources of them with protein and fat.
In a study published in the European Heart Journal in September 2019, researchers concluded that people who ate the least amount of carbs had the highest risk of death from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.
So who can benefit from a low-carb diet?
THOSE WITH THE FOLLOWING MEDICAL DIAGNOSES!!
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)- not all need to go low-carb!! Moderate carb intake should work when given the proper nutrition education
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Glycogen Storage Disease
- GLUT1 Deficiency Syndrome
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Other medical conditions that have showed promise with a low-carb diet but need further research on humans (not rats) for application:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- certain autoimmune diseases
To conclude, unless you have the medical conditions listed above and consult with a doctor and dietitian of consuming less than 130g of carbs/day, then there is no need to subscribe to a low-carb diet. Carbohydrates break down into sugar in our bodies (fruit and veggies included!). That sugar is also called glucose that our brain uses as its primary choice for fuel. Fun fact: Our brain needs about 120g on average a day. OUR BRAIN ALONE AND NOT INCLUDING THE REST OF OUR ORGANS! Feed and love on that pretty brain and body of yours. Don’t fret about carbs.
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