For decades if not centuries, the belief was that if you stopped eating fatty foods you would lose weight, but that other foods (healthier foods) were completely okay. However, this entire belief was thrown for a loop when some individuals started inventing low carb diets – diets that had no carbohydrate rich foods like bread, rice, pasta, as well as some vegetables and fruit – all of which seemed to be very effective at helping people lose weight.
The Atkins Diet, for example, was a diet that had 0 carbohydrates but a great deal of fatty foods like meats, high protein foods as well as healthier foods like fruit. That diet was considered an amazing phenomenon, because individuals that tried it seemed to shed pounds at a rapid pace, going from large to thin in just a few months.
However, carbohydrates have always been known as important for your body to work correctly. So these diets have come under intense scrutiny, especially about their safety and the ability to keep weight off.
Do the Diets Work?
Low carb diets do work quickly. People that want to lose weight fast are better known to lose weight quickly on a low carb diet than on regular low fat, low calorie diets. However, in some ways the data is misleading.
Low carb diets cause:
1. A loss in the amount of water weight you have because the low number of carbohydrates in your body cause it to burn a chemical called glycogen. Glycogen contains a great deal of water, so you are losing water from your body as well.
2. Increased Fullness – Most people that have low carb diets report less hunger and often feel full easier and for longer during the day. Because of this, few of them tend to overeat, which obviously caused a great deal of weight gain.
3. Less Calories – Less calories does equal less weight gain, and carbohydrates have calories. Reducing your caloric intake means that you are going to see weight loss in the low carb diets.
If you will notice, however, there is not a lot of loss of body fat in your body. With the exception of reducing your calories, you are really just eating less (which most people should do anyway) and losing water weight (which may or may not be healthy.
Risks and Safety
In addition, there are a lot of red flags about the safety of a low carb diet. Very little is known about the health of these diets because they are all relatively new, however a few things can be garnered simply by common sense:
1. Carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Most likely if you are now eating enough carbohydrates, you are not exercising much, in which case while you may look healthy, your heart and muscles are likely very negatively affected by the lack of physical activity.
2. High fat foods are going to be high in bad fats, as well as cholesterol, which can cause some severe health problems, including increased risk for heart attack and high blood pressure.
3. Carbohydrates have always been a part of your life, since early man. Taking them out of your diet altogether can potentially cause a number of health problems down the road even beyond the increased heart attack risk – and these will not be known because the diets are too new to research over the long term.
While these diets have shown some strong efficacy, they have potential risks. In general, a low fat, high exercise diet is going to be healthier, and poses no known risks in the short or long term.
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