Low Carb Diets – How They Work


Low carb diets are among the most widely used by those trying to lose weight.  Although they were originally seen as fad diets, that quickly changed with the popularity and success of the Atkins diet.  Atkins revolutionized the way people looked at weight loss due to the proven effectiveness of low carbohydrate diets at helping even the most stubborn pounds to melt away.  There are various types of low carb diets, but they are all constructed around the notion that severely limiting carbohydrates will stimulate weight loss.

A low carb diet is one where the majority of calories are derived from fats and proteins. Ideally, less than 10 % of calories will come from carbohydrates and around 60% coming from fat.  That may sound like a high percentage, but once you understand how a low carb diet works you will see it is actually the right number.  It is a common misconception that the fats we ingest become fat in our body.  In reality it is carbohydrates that are turned into fat, not actual fat. This is part of the reason why eating more fat on a low carb diet will not sabotage your diet.

To understand what happens when you limit carbohydrates you must first understand their purpose and how they affect your body.  Carbs are used to fuel your body and energize it, so when they are ingested your liver will break  them down into glucose in order to keep you going.  Your body must then produce  it causes your insulin to help these sugars be used for energy.

While this is an important bodily function there is a negative side to this: sugars that are not used as energy are stored as fat, which is why eating too many carbohydrates causes weight gain.  Too many carbs also cause insulin levels to spike, causing false hunger pains.  All carbohydrates are turned into sugars, but not all of them get used, so it makes sense that you would gain weight from eating too many.  It also helps us to better understand why severely limiting carbs causes you to lose weight.

While moderate carbohydrate consumption will help you maintain weight or lose a few pounds it won’t be that effective because you are still getting at least a quarter of your calories from them.  This means your body is using carbs instead of your reserve fat as energy, so you won’t lose weight.  The key to losing weight is burning fat and that can best be achieved by limiting carbs to 10% or less of your daily calories.

When you lower your carb intake to 10% or less, your body goes into a state known as ketosis.  Ketosis occurs when there are no carbs to burn for fuel and your body begins to burn stored fat, resulting in insulin levels returning to normal.   That is also why it is recommended to eat a low- carb, not zero-carb diet, as some carbs are necessary to help fuel your body.  Also, taking in no carbohydrates at all can lead to physical illness, with malnutrition and kidney problems potentially occurring.


Are Low Carbohydrate Diets Effective?

Slim yoga girlLow carbohydrate diets can be effective on several levels.  In addition to helping people lose weight, some people believe they can also help with medical conditions such as diabetes.  Restricting carbs helps regulate insulin levels, which is critical for diabetics.  Keeping their insulin levels from spiking can help them to take fewer medications and control their disease naturally.

However, anyone with diabetes or another medical condition should never rely on diet alone to regulate it. With diabetes, if you are taking medication or insulin injections, then regulating your insulin levels through taking in lower glycemic foods could result in an overdose of your medication, because you might not need as much as you were taking before. Therefore, be sure to consult with your doctor about this before making radical changes to your diet.

Low carbohydrate diets do seem to help with weight loss. Some claim that you can achieve a new you in 28 days. One of the reasons for this is that when we are getting most of our calories from fats and proteins instead of carbs, we continue to feel full for longer. We don’t get that ‘carbohydrate crash’ that results in craving more food two or three hours after eating. Some people even find that they are forgetting to eat – a weird experience for those of us who have been overweight for many years!

It is important to know that their are several kinds of low carb diets on the market, as well as low carb products.  It’s not a good idea to try to follow a no carbohydrate diet, which wouldn’t be healthy. Some diets suggest you eliminate all carbs except for those found in vegetables while others like the South Beach diet allow healthy carbs, like those found in whole-grain breads and some fruits.

While you will be eating more fat on these diets it is important to eat healthy fats, like those found in avocado or olive oil or you will harm your body.  High fat foods can cause high-cholesterol, may contribute to diabetes, worsen high blood pressure and also cause you to slow down your weight loss, especially if combined with a lot of carbohydrates. Fat plus sugar together are one of the worst food combinations we can eat, for our waistline.

The low carb products that are on the market are great at helping you know how many carbs you are eating, as they are packaged in individual sizes.  This makes it easy for you to stick to your diet and succeed.  You will find protein shakes, low carb breads, snacks and more to help you make eating a low carb diet easy.  Also, ready-prepared low carb foods eliminate you guessing what’s in something your eating.

Embarking on a low carb diet is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off.  You should research the various types, to ensure you understand how low carb diets work and pick the one that’s best for you, improving your chances at successfully losing weight.  Low carbohydrate diets can help you reach your weight loss goals and make you physically healthier, which is a sure-fire recipe for long-term success. Dr Jonny Bowden’s Metabolic Factor program is a good example.

Zero Carb Diet And How It Works

Inuit with reindeer

Usually, when people talk about eating ‘no carbohydrates’ they don’t really mean they are following a zero carb diet. They generally mean they’re not eating rice, bread, potatoes and pasta. But there are also carbohydrates in vegetables, fruit and milk, and low amounts even in eggs and some organ meats.

However, the no carb diet, also known as zero carb diet, does exist. It was first defined by an expert named Vilhjalmur Stefansson. This expert is a Canadian explorer who has tried living with the Inuit people. During that time, he has followed and studied these people’s diet which is 90% fish and meat and it also includes fats.

Stefansson claimed that he was having a healthy body by following these people’s diet. However, it’s important to keep in mind that although Stefansson was Canadian, his parents had immigrated there from Iceland. Therefore his genes might have been adapted to survive on an arctic diet, which would not apply to most of us.

For most people, a low carb diet is much healthier than a zero carbohydrate diet, as well as being easier to follow.

The zero carb diet can be simply described as having very low carb meals in a person’s diet. This usually includes some low carb vegetables – if not, it won’t contain the vitamins and minerals that we need to survive. This generally means green leafy vegetables.

Some of the extreme versions of a no carb diet programs are created by people like Pierre Dukan. Following this type of diet would allow an individual to eat unlimited amounts of butter, eggs, fish and meat. Milk is not allowed. However, a person is allowed to use vegetable oils as well as butter when cooking because they don’t contain carbohydrates.

Zero Carb Diet Is Not Healthy

A zero carb diet is not healthy if sustained for any length of time. A person is unlikely to get enough fiber and other essential constituents of food, even if they are taking a vitamin and mineral supplement.

Anybody who wants to follow this type of diet routine should keep certain things in mind. First of all, the Inuit people whom Stefansson has lived with have eaten organically raised fish and meat. Thus, you may need to try finding organically raised meats today which is not that easy to do. Also, organically raised meats are usually expensive nowadays.

Following this type of diet program can also mean that you will be taking less of some of the vitamins and minerals which is why not all people can survive this type kind of diet routine especially to those who have medical problems such as diabetes.

Secondly, there are some studies that have shown that this type of diet routine may cause medical problems such as a weakened heart because of taking less carbs in the body thus, the arteries of the heart and the heart itself will have less energy and may get weak.

Always remember to not eat too much protein because this can cause kidney problems. Higher proportion of your daily calories should be acquired from fat if you are following this type of diet. Drink plenty of water to avoid any kidney damage and for you to have a higher chance of surviving this kind of diet program.

A zero carb diet is definitely something that’s very interesting to read about. However, you should do a thorough research about it first or seek a physician to ask if it is a suitable diet program for you before trying to follow it to avoid undesirable outcomes later on.

South Beach Weight Loss Diet Plan

Slim woman on beach
The South Beach weight loss method is a low carb diet plan which was published after Dr Robert Atkins popularized low carb dieting with the Atkins diet. If you’re interested in this type of diet, you might want to visit our no carb diet page.

The South Beach weight loss diet plan has a similar structure with the Atkins diet since it also has a 2-week induction phase and it is followed by a weight loss phase and finally, the maintenance phase.

However, the foods which are allowed in each diet program are different. For the South Beach diet program, it is mostly based on glycemic index of foods. This measure how fast the foods are converted into glucose in the digestive system. Refined flour and sugar are rapidly converted thus, they are high on the glycemic index and they are not allowed in this particular weight loss program. Middle range foods are mostly not allowed in the first 2 weeks of the diet plan.

South Beach What You Can Eat

The foods which are allowed in the first phase of this diet program are turkey breast, chicken and lean beef. You can have unlimited amounts of these foods. Fatty skin and meats are not allowed to avoid increasing the amount of saturated fat in the body.

However, you are allowed to take healthy oils such as mayonnaise and olive oil. You may also eat small amount of nuts, low fat cheese, eggs, seafood, peas and beans and non-starchy vegetables. With this wide variety of foods that you are allowed to eat, the South Beach diet program is definitely one of the best weight loss plans especially for vegetarians.

Foods Not Allowed In The First 2 Weeks

Foods which are not allowed during the induction phase are starchy vegetables, fruits, alcohol, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, and regular cheese. But most of these foods are added in the 2nd phase. One of the best things when it comes to a low carb diet is that you will be allowed to eat as many foods as you want as long as it is on the list of allowed foods.


You may crave for certain foods but it will just pass after a few days of following this diet program. Also, you will find it easier to follow the program if you will clear your kitchen of the foods which you shouldn’t be eating.

South Beach Weight Loss

The weight loss that you are going to expect when following this diet program will depend. It will vary from person to person but most people have lost up to 15 lbs in just 2 weeks of following the induction phase and the progress didn’t stop even on the last phase.

If you had a healthy diet before following this weight loss program, your losses will most probably be less because your body won’t have retained water to lose. However, this diet program will be great in losing weight steadily and maintaining a healthy and fit body.

Health Disclaimer

The information on this site is provided for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. You should consult with a qualified medical professional in person before starting any new diet or fitness program, or if you have any medical issues.