Health Fitness

Low carbohydrate diet: miracle or myth?

A low-carbohydrate diet that strictly restricts carbohydrate intake is very effective in regulating the hormone insulin.

Insulin is what controls the absorption of glucose by blood cells. In this way, insulin regulates blood sugar levels. The glucose that is absorbed into the cells is then used to meet energy requirements. When there is more glucose than the cell needs for energy, the excess is stored as fat.

In a recent report in one of the leading medical journals, a low-carb diet was found to lower blood insulin levels by 27% while simultaneously improving cell sensitivity to the hormone.

As a result of this effect, glucose is metabolized normally without any stress on other organs or systems to produce additional insulin, a factor that has been thought to be responsible for weight gain and the development of diabetes later in life. Simply put, a low-carb diet helps improve glucose metabolism and protects against diabetes.

To see how a low-carb diet can achieve this result, take a look at how the body deals with low-carb content in the daily diet.

When the carbohydrate content of your daily food intake falls below a point, two adaptive responses occur.

* You start to lose water

* You turn to fat for energy.

Water loss is one of the first changes to occur. Water is retained when there is a high blood glucose content. Insulin regulation keeps glucose within a tight normal range, so there is no need to store water. Water loss is accompanied by proportional weight loss soon after starting a low-carbohydrate diet.

But there is also the second answer, which is more important for long-term weight loss.

Your body’s metabolism shifts toward using fat stores for energy instead of glucose. Thus the various energy requirements in the tissues are provided by the anaerobic metabolism of fat stores. As a result, weight loss follows.

Reports in some highly respected medical journals have confirmed this impact of following a low-carb diet. There is pretty conclusive data to suggest that a reduced intake of carbohydrates can shed stubborn abdominal fat and even get rid of dangerous visceral fat.

A Tulane University study is widely cited in support of the benefits of a low-carb diet. This experimental research conducted on a group of 148 volunteers compared the effects of a lower carbohydrate diet versus a low fat diet. The test group of subjects were put on a strict low-carb diet where they were restricted to just 40 grams of carbohydrates per day.

What was surprising about the study was that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, it was found that the low-carb diet group lost 7.7 pounds more than those on a low-fat diet. It changed public thinking about the role of dietary fat in weight loss and showed that carbohydrates were more important than previously believed.

These data have also been confirmed in other studies. Low-carbohydrate diets can lower insulin levels, postpone or prevent the development of diabetes, and achieve weight loss by eliminating stored fat.

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