Losing weight can be tough. It takes hard work, consistency and no matter how much you workout, a healthy diet. I’ve had clients in Calgary, Canada, ask whether a low carb diet was best or if calorie counting was the way to go. Frankly, any healthy diet that works for you is the best. In my discussions, it was apparent that most people didn’t know exactly what low carb diets were and how they worked, but this beginners guide to carb counting should help.
There are three macronutrients, carbs are one of those three.
Macronutrients include protein, fat and carbs.You need all three. A low carb diet is all about reducing the number of calories from carbs in your diet and the types of carbs to eliminate. Within each category, there are subcategories. Carbohydrates in food are either starches, a complex carbohydrate, sugars, or fiber. Each of those classes can be further divided, but let’s focus just on sugars and added sugars. Cutting added sugar out of a diet is beneficial. Refined simple sugars digest quickly and spike blood sugar. Foods with fiber slow the absorption, so they’re better for a low carb diet. A low carb diet’s objective is to avoid that spike and help control blood sugar levels.
You’ll see some other benefits from a low carb diet, other than weight loss.
Low carb diets can help control cholesterol. It lowers the bad cholesterol levels—LDL—and increases the good cholesterol—HDL. Low carb diets improve triglyceride and aids in stabilizing blood sugar, so diabetics may benefit. When you reduce the amount of carbs, you also increase the amount of protein and fat, so those both fill you up and keep you feeling full far longer. The added protein can even help increase your metabolism.
What should you eat on a low carb diet.
Some carbs are allowed, such as complex carbohydrates and fiber that digest more slowly, so they don’t affect blood sugar spikes like simple carbs. Complex carbs, are foods like beans, oatmeal or sweet potatoes. Foods like apples, pears and broccoli are loaded with fiber. Beans, oatmeal and sweet potatoes also have lots of fiber, so groups often overlap. In general, mostly simple carbs and refined carbs are either eliminated or dramatically reduced. The number of calories from protein and healthy fat sources, like meat, nuts, avocados and fish are increased.
- Low carb diets that are sensible won’t hurt you. You should never eliminate or severely restrict healthy carbs, like fruits and vegetables. Your body needs carbs for energy.
- The intent of a low carb diet is to provide fewer carbs for immediate energy and use stored fat instead. The combination of the satiety of the diet and burning fat may improve your weight loss.
- The food selections in a low carb diet are also part of healthy eating. The only difference is the focus on the proportion of from carbs compared to the other two macronutrients, fat and protein.
- Always check with your doctor before starting any type of specialized diet. However, everyone can benefit from eliminating added sugar and refined carbohydrates.
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