Most experts agree that eating a diet that strikes a healthy balance between all of the major food groups is the best way to eat for optimal health. But there are many who argue that low-carbohydrate diets should be used in specific cases as mentioned further.
A low Carb Diet.
A low-carb diet restricts carbs, as its name implies. Any diet containing 20g to 120g of carbohydrates per day is considered low-carb according to the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
If you’re curious further, here’s how scientists describe low-carbohydrate diets. No, we’re not advocating you stoop to their level. (1)(2)
- Low carb: 50-130 grams of carbs per day
- Very low carb: 20-50 grams of carbs per day – this is also referred to as the ‘ketogenic‘ or ‘keto‘ diet.
The core tenet of the low-carb diet is that it causes insulin levels to drop, which in turn causes the body to switch to using fat for fuel and “become fat-adapted.” When insulin levels fall, the body begins to use stored fat for energy and there are no blood sugar dips or surges during the day. A lower-carbohydrate diet entails consuming fewer foods high in carbs rather than cutting them out entirely. You need to up your protein and fat consumption while cutting back on carbs.
Who can benefit from a Low Carb diet?
Some individuals who have attempted to reduce weight have followed the ketogenic diet, which restricts carbohydrates and boosts fat consumption. There are certain people who should not follow a low-carb diet, including children, young athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those who are currently battling with or have a history of an eating disorder. While this diet may be effective for certain individuals, it is not usually sustainable and may be deficient in fiber.
Any individual considering a low-carb diet would be wise to see a physician or registered dietitian to determine whether or not the diet’s benefits outweigh its risks in light of the individual’s current health status.
Benefits of Low Carb Diet.
Such diets are common because they help people cut down on calories. However, there is more to a low-carbohydrate diet than that. Weight loss, treatment of fatty liver, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, and relief from the pain and inflammation of arthritis are only some of the potential benefits of a diet lower in carbs.
- Short-term Weight Loss: Such weight reduction can be achieved by limiting carbohydrate intake. The rapidity with which you lose weight initially is in part attributable to the water you’ll be losing such as in the keto diet. According to the research 6 months, those who consumed less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day lost around 8.8 pounds (4 kilograms) more weight than those who consumed less than 30 percent of their calories from fat. Before starting a new, particularly restricted diet, people should always check in with their doctor as there are many other healthy ways to reduce weight, especially in a sustained way.
- Lowers Cholesterols: Low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to increase good HDL cholesterol, according to certain studies. (1)(2) However, there is still much debate and ambiguous evidence about the relationship between carbs and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol.
- Control Diabetes: Type 2 diabetics can better control their blood sugar levels by limiting the number of carbohydrates in their diets as per research. Dietary adjustments may be helpful for persons with type 2 diabetes, but they should consult to fabricate the diet according to their needs and current health condition. However, you shouldn’t feel like you have to cut out all carbs from your diet. In reality, diabetes can be treated on higher-carb diets, too.
- Bring down the Blood pressure: The results of certain research show that lowering carb intake might have a beneficial effect on blood pressure.
- PCOS: In obese patients with polycystic ovary syndrome, a low-carbohydrate diet has been shown to reduce body weight and improve the success of reproductive treatments.
- Reduces Illness-Associated Bely Fat: Very low-carb diets have been shown to be more effective than low-fat diets for reducing belly fat, a type of fat linked to inflammation and several illnesses. (1)
- Reduces The Risk of Metabolic Syndrome: The risk factors for metabolic syndrome include hypertension, diabetes, and abdominal obesity, all of which may be mitigated by a reduction in carbs as per research.
- Benefits Brain: Yes, carbohydrates are essential for maintaining mental health. Contrarily, a low-carb diet can provide the same results. Research published in PubMed Central found that a low-carb diet like keto significantly improved memory. Those who are concerned about their chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke can also reap its benefits.
Drawbacks of Low Carb Intake.
When you don’t receive enough carbs in your diet, your body might store them in your muscles and liver for later use. Many symptoms, including weariness, weakness, poor concentration, nausea, constipation, foul breath, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies, have been linked to a lack of carbohydrates in the diet.
- Can Cause Fatigue/ Unwanted Ketosis: Your body runs on carbohydrates. Extreme carbohydrate restriction can trigger the breakdown of fat into ketones for energy. This is known as ketosis. The negative effects of ketosis include foul breath, headache, weariness, and weakness. Furthermore, research reveals that restricting carbs to below what our bodies require for optimal energy might produce fatigue, particularly during the adaptation period.
- Headache: Some individuals who are used to consuming a lot of sugar may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches if they suddenly stop. There is also evidence from a number of research to show that the frequency and intensity of headaches increase when one begins a low-carbohydrate diet.
- Un-Known Long-Term Effects: Very little research has looked at the effects of very low-carb diets over the long term, making it impossible to speculate on the consequences of going carb-free.
- Constipation: People on low-carbs, especially very low-carb diets like keto, frequently report digestive issues, such as constipation. It is due to a lack of fiber from a low-carbohydrate diet, as high-fiber foods like beans and grains are typically avoided because they are also relatively rich in carbohydrates.
- Nutritional Deficiencies: A diet in low carbs may not provide adequate B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and magnesium, according to a review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
- Not Suitable for Renal Patients: There is some evidence that nutritional ketosis might increase uric acid levels, which can then cause kidney stones or gout attacks. Medically supervised ketogenic diet participants with moderate chronic renal disease performed well in one research. However, other studies reveal a 97% increased risk of renal disease in those whose diets are heavy in red meat and poor in nutritious grains, low-fat dairy, and fruit. For this reason, several nutritionists warn against attempting a very low-carb diet on your own.
As with a coin, a low-carb diet offers both advantages and disadvantages. If you drastically reduce carbs, you may find yourself unable to get adequate fiber and other essential nutrients and resort to dietary supplements. Is it healthy to restrict carbs? In a nutshell, everything depends on your specific requirements, health, situation, and capacities. Before beginning a low-carb diet, it is recommended that you speak with a doctor.
However, it’s better to have carbs in your daily life with foods with good carbohydrates that also provide additional health benefits. What are good carbs and how are they processed in the body? Have a look at this article here.
Top Healthy Carbs Containing Foods.
Keeping good kinds of carbs in your diet is equally important. Below is the list of healthy carbs that one can add to the diet to reap the benefits.
- Whole-Wheat Pasta. While refined, enriched pasta is often richer in iron and vitamin B, whole-grain pasta is typically higher in fiber, manganese, selenium, copper, and phosphorus. A decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity has been linked to a diet high in whole grains. A 100-gram serving of whole wheat pasta contains about 74.5 grams of carbs.
- Oats. Oats, a source of complex carbohydrates, have been related to a decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in humans. Oats also feed your gut microorganisms with prebiotic fiber. Eating oats has been linked to reduced cholesterol, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Other benefits of having oats include their help in weight management and the prevention of diabetes. A 100-gram portion has 67.7 grams of carbohydrates, including 10.1 grams of fiber.
- Legumes and Beans. Beans come in a wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes, but they all provide a healthy dose of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Beans are rich in a wide range of nutrients, including many essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. There are several antioxidant components included in them, such as anthocyanins and isoflavone. Numerous studies have shown that including them in one’s diet on a daily basis has positive effects on one’s cardiovascular health, blood pressure, and cancer risk.
- About 21.5 g of carbohydrates, mostly from starch and fiber, may be found in every 100 grams of cooked kidney beans.
- Garbanzo beans include 44.9 g of carbs and 14.5 g of protein per cup after cooking.
- Lentils contain protein (17.9 g), fiber (15.6 g), and carbohydrates (39.8 g per cup after boiling).
- Bananas. The sweet flavor and potassium boost of this peelable fruit are much praised. With only 100 calories and 26 grams of good carbohydrates, one medium banana is a great addition to any diet. Their increased concentration of natural sugars belies the fact that they are packed with fiber, which the body uses to digest and process the sugar more slowly. Unripe and less ripe bananas also contain fair quantities of resistant starch and pectin, both of which improve digestive health and offer fuel for the beneficial bacteria in your stomach
- Rice. Like the typical misunderstandings about potatoes, there are several about rice as well. Nearly 80% of the dry weight of rice is carbohydrates, making them the primary nutrient in this food. Because it is a complete grain, brown rice retains all of its nutritional value, including the bran and the germ. Brown rice has 23.5 g of carbs per 100g serving. The antioxidant content and fiber are high in this grain.The nutritional value of white rice isn’t zero, and it still has certain benefits despite brown rice’s superiority. Like potatoes, the type of rice you choose should depend on personal preference.
- Quinoa is a nutritious source of carbohydrates that may be consumed regularly. Its gluten-free nature makes it a popular wheat alternative. In the context of food, it is known as a pseudocereal, which is a seed prepared and consumed in the same way as a cereal grain. A 100-gram quinoa contains 21.3 grams of carbs. Not only does it include fiber, but it is also a source of protein that can help you achieve your daily protein needs. It has been associated with several health advantages, including better control of blood sugar and cardiovascular wellness. Quinoa’s protein and fiber make it satisfying. Thus, it may help maintain weight and digestion.
- Sweet Potatoes. Numerous studies have shown that eating sweet potatoes has positive health effects like having antioxidant properties. A serving of 100grams of sweet potato has just around 20.7 g of nutritious carbohydrates and 100 calories, plus it’s a great source of vitamin A (up to 6 times the daily dose!). In 2015, researchers found that some carbohydrate compounds in purple sweet potato may potentially have antioxidant and anticancer properties.
- Apples. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and tastes, but the carbohydrate content per 100 g is always about 14-16grams. (1) (2) (3) According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a medium apple has 20.6 g of carbs. In addition, it contains vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They provide a wide range of health advantages, including better control of blood sugar and cardiovascular wellness. This fruit has also found its use as a cancer preventive measure, making it more applicable to the term an apple a day, keeping the doctor away.
- Buckwheat. Like quinoa, it’s also pseudocereal and gluten-free and contains soluble fiber, and this fiber slows digestion, allowing you to feel full for a longer period of time. Buckwheat is a fantastic source of nutrition due to the high levels of protein and fiber it boasts. For every 100 g consumed, raw buckwheat has 75 grams of carbs while cooked buckwheat groats have just around 19.9 grams of carbohydrates. Further, evidence from both human and animal research suggests it may help keep hearts healthy and blood sugar levels stable.
- Corns. Corn is a versatile food that may be eaten as a side, on the cob, or in a salad at any time of the year. A 100-gram portion includes 3.27 g of protein and 18.7 g of carbohydrate. It’s a fantastic source of vitamin C, too. Starch, the main source of carbohydrates in corn, can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, its high fiber content can aid in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. It has also been studied to prevent digestive problems such as diverticular disease.
- Dates. Dates are a delicious source of carbs and vital nutrients. They can be used as a sweet snack or dessert because of their naturally high sugar content and their wide variety. Many essential minerals and vitamins, such as calcium, B vitamins, non-heme iron, potassium, copper, and magnesium, may be found in dates. You can get 18 grams of fiber from only two Medjool dates (24 grams each). Dates, like oats, are high in soluble fiber, which can reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Because of the insoluble fiber they contain, they also aid in digestion.
- Oranges. They include mostly water and roughly 15.5 g of carbohydrates per 100 g. In addition to being a tasty fruit, oranges are rich in fiber. Vitamin C, potassium, and some B vitamins may all be found in abundance in oranges. Furthermore, they have citric acid and a number of powerful plant chemicals and antioxidants. Oranges have been linked to a reduction in the risk of developing heart disease and kidney stones. As an added bonus, they may improve your body’s ability to absorb iron from the foods you eat, decreasing your risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.
- Berries are a tasty way to gain more of the nutrients your body needs every day. Besides tasting great, berries are a great source of fiber, and they contain many beneficial nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese with a total amount of 14.5 g per 100 g. Antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries and strawberries may help reduce inflammation, increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure, and boost brainpower, according to studies. (1) (2).
- Beetroots. Beetroots, often known as beets, are a type of root vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked. Antioxidants including anthocyanins, betaine, and lutein give them their deep purple hue. Many nutrients, including potassium, calcium, folate, and vitamin A, may be found in beets. Naturally occurring inorganic nitrates found in them are good for people’s hearts as per scientific research. Carbohydrate-wise, a portion (100 grams) of raw beets provides 13 g.
Many people worry about their carb intake but remember that eating carbohydrates from healthy sources is more important than strictly controlling how many grams of carbs you eat.
The fact about carbohydrate consumption is that there is nothing wrong with it, particularly if it is done in moderation. It is illogical to exclude simple carbohydrates from your diet because they provide you with rapid energy when you need them. After a tough workout or in the middle of the day, simple sugars are ideal for folks who need an extra boost.