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.