What is a low carb diet?

Low carb diets are the 'latest sensation', in a society where so many people have found that low-fat dieting has failed them.  Suddenly, it seems as if 'everyone who is anyone' is on some type of low carb diet. 

But what  is a low carb diet? A diet can be called 'low carbohydrate' (low carb) if it controls or restricts carbohydrates (starches and sugars).

A low carb diet is not necessarily high in fat, but is likely to be moderately high in protein.  Most low carb diets allow generous serves of protein foods, and vegetables, but control sweet or starchy foods such as fruits, sugars, flours and grains.

All low carbohydrate diets work by reducing the body's insulin response. Insulin is the hormone that brings down the blood sugar we get from our food, by converting it into fat. The trouble is, that for many of us, our insulin response is too efficient, making too much fat, and bringing the blood sugar down too far, so that we are hungrier than ever. Carbohydrates (starches and sugars) increase your insulin response, and a low carbohydrate diet aims at reducing this response, and encouraging your body to burn the stored body fat for its energy.

There are many low carb diets -  for weight loss, for health, and for specific medical conditions.  Where low carbohydrate diets differ from each other, is in how restrictive they are in relation to carbohydrate intake, and how they recommend you balance your food intake over the course of a day. 

If low fat dieting has worked well for you -  you have reached and maintained a normal weight, feel healthy and enjoy your low fat food - then you are probably one of the minority of people who are better suited to a low fat diet. But if a low fat diet left you feeling, hungry, frustrated, and still fat, or you hated the food, or regained the weight, then its likely that a low carbohydrate diet will suit you better. 

next: But which low carbohydrate diet is for you?


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