by Katie Caldesi
A low-carb lifestyle is chosen by people who have become aware of how carbohydrates affect their bodies. They recognise what foods are high in carbs ie sugars and starchy foods and decide to restrict them in their diet.
“One of my biggest regrets is my lack of knowledge. I just didn’t understand that certain foods were poisoning me.”
There are various levels of a low-carb diet: ketogenic, strict, moderate or liberal. As everyone is individual, only you can choose how low you go. There are varying carb limit “rules” out there but most people generally recognise a low-carb diet to be under 130g carbs a day. Currently many people eat twice that on the modern western diet.
All food is made up from macronutrients, often called macros. These are the main 3 food groups carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates are either sugary or starchy foods. Carb heavy foods such as potatoes, sweets, bread, beer, fizzy drinks, grains or any sugary foods can quickly raise your blood glucose level. To bring this back down again your body triggers the production of insulin; its job is to keep blood sugar low by pushing glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells.
When our glucose stores are filled the excess is converted to fat and deposited. If we eat a fast food meal without pauses and breaks our blood sugar rises very rapidly to a high peak and falls very rapidly. The rise and fall of insulin lags behind this and in fact means our peak of insulin occurs when the blood sugar is low or on the way down. So we become relatively hypoglycaemic (low in sugar) and crave it. We dive out of MacDonalds and head straight to Dunkin Donuts.
Lost behaviours such as slow eating and the family meal flatten the glucose and insulin response curves leading to a sense of satiety and a smaller appetite.
Insulin is a fat storage hormone so in simple terms it pushes the glucose into our cells for energy use another day. This can result in weight gain, type 2 diabetes and these other conditions – to find out more about this click here.
“I believe we have eaten our way into this epidemic of diabetes and obesity and that we can eat our way out of it” Dr David Unwin FRCGP
Becoming a Fat Burner
Instead of your energy coming mainly from carbs which turn into glucose; by switching to a diet low in carbohydrates, your energy will come mainly from fat stores or by eating healthy fats such as butter, ghee, olive oil, dairy foods, meat or oily fish. A low-carb lifestyle can also be called LCHF (low-carb high-fat). You will still be eating an adequate amount of protein and plenty of vegetables. We love to eat this way as protein and fat are not only delicious but filling too. We will show you in the recipes how easy it is to substitute carbs from pasta, bread, rice and more with plenty of non-starchy vegetables instead.
“Most diets work on restricting calories; its where the calories are from and how they affect your body that matters”
Low-fat diets have been popular for decades and while they appear to work for weight-loss, their presence in our world doesn’t seem to have prevented a rise in cases of obesity. If you like the idea of low-fat spread, one-calorie cooking sprays made of poor-quality oil, dry rice cakes and low-fat yoghurts full of sugar then this website isn’t for you. If you like the idea of eating natural whole foods then climb on board….
No More Feeling Starving Hungry
Low-carb diets can be effective for weight-loss as often your appetite is reduced. I used to wake up each morning hungry and couldn’t wait for my breakfast of oats, banana, low-fat yoghurt and honey. Now my blood glucose levels are controlled through avoiding sugar and eating less starchy carbs, I don’t eat until late morning and don’t have the old weak feeling of hunger at all.
My body has become used to burning the fat I store on my thighs instead! Reduced appetite can result in eating less calories throughout the day hence the weight-loss. Anyone who read About Us will know Giancarlo had an insatiable appetite for food. He still can’t believe he sometimes eats only once a day. He simply isn’t hungry anymore as his body eats its fat stores as it should do.
Eating natural whole foods
A low-carb diet is based on eating natural whole foods that are grown or produced with minimum intervention. Many people refer to these as “real” or “unprocessed” foods yet I believe this can cause confusion. Afterall wheat is a “real” food that raises your glucose levels; yoghurt and cheese are “processed” and I love to use them in my recipes so what do we really mean?
It is safe to say most “ultra-processed foods”, which make up over 50% of our diet here in the UK, are not what we would consider as natural whole foods. They are mass produced in large quantities in factories, come in a packet are probably high in carbs. Examples include most ready meals, pies, pasta bakes, noodle pots, vegan food, sandwiches, desserts and biscuits. Natural whole foods are nutrient-dense, ultra-processed foods are usually not.
Foods made at home, carefully selected at the supermarket or cooked in good restaurants can be low-carb;Fast foods – fish and chips, pizza, pie and mash, hot dogs, burgers in buns, kebabs in pitta, curry and rice – are nearly always high in carbs, poor quality fats and contain little protein as it is expensive. We have some great ‘fakeaway’ recipes to enjoy instead like a low-carb alternative to pizza or tasty lamb kebabs.
Why low carb is better than low calorie for weight loss by Jenny Philips
It should now be clear why low carb works for improving blood sugar – restricting sugar and starchy carbohydrate reduces spikes in blood glucose and allows insulin levels to normalise.
Without the insulin rush, you will feel more satisfied after meals and this helps to moderate appetite. Lower insulin levels allow you to burn body fat, which can be enhanced when combined with intermittent fasting. This is crucial if you want to lose weight, and also means that you feel good because you are not suffering from swings in your energy supply. Fat is your alternative fuel.
For many people, low carb is far more effective than eating low calorie foods, which are typically low in fat and high in insulin spiking refined carbs and added sugars. These foods also tend to be highly processed and do not sustain or nourish you in the longer term.
In studies, low carb consistently outperforms low fat (low calorie) diets. The Public Health Collaboration keep an updated analysis of high quality diet trials on their website .
The Public Health Collaboration (PHC) is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to informing and implementing healthy decisions for better public health. The advisory board of the PHC is made up of 12 doctors of varying specialities from General Practitioners to Cardiologists. Their main focus is to help the NHS save money and improve patient health through lifestyle interventions.
How will I feel on a low-carb diet?
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The information we have collated on this page is advisory only and is based on differing levels of research. LowCarbTogether.com provide this resource for information purposes and does not in any way endorse any third party statements. Remember if you are taking including medication (including diabetes medicine), have high blood pressure, have been diagnosed with a specific illness, pregnant or breast feeding. always check with your healthcare professional before changing your diet.