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Low Carbohydrate Diet: Myths and Fallacies

Today, the term low-carbohydrate diet is associated with the Atkins Diet, a popular weight-loss diet composed of high-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate foods. Some of these low-carbohydrate, high protein diets advocate the restriction of rice, bread, pastas, noodles, sugar, fruits and vegetables while emphasizing meat, chicken, milk, egg and cheese.

The key scientific principle which forms the basis for these diets is the relationship between consumption of carbohydrates and the effects on blood sugar (glucose) and hormone production. Blood sugar levels in the human body must be kept in a fairly narrow range to maintain health. The two primary hormones related to regulating blood sugar levels produced by the pancreas are insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels and glucagon which raises blood sugar levels. On the other hand, dietary protein also causes insulin levels to rise. Consuming excess protein and fat can also lead to weight gain.

In fact, it is easier to gain weight from’ eating fatty foods because they have more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain four calories per gram whereas protein and fat contain four and nine per gram respectively. Here are some myths and facts about low-carbohydrate diets:

Myth Number 1: Lowcarbohydrates/high protein diets are a healthy way to lose weight.

Fact: These diets cause weight loss through calorie restriction. People who go on those diets will notice rapid weight loss during days due to the loss of carbohydrates and stored water. For every gram of carbohydrate lost, three grains of water is lost. You lose water because your kidneys tried to get rid of the excess waste products of protein and fat, called ketones. This is not a healthy way to lose weight. It overworks your kidneys and can result to dehydration. You suffer from side effects like nausea, hdadache, weakness, dizziness, bad breath as well as constipation. Build up of ketones in the blood (called ketosis) can cause your body to produce high levels of uric acid, which is a risk factor for gout (painful swelling of the joints) and kidney stones. Ketosis can be very risky for people with diabetes.

Myth Number 2: Low carbohydrate diets induce ketosis.
Fact: Carbohydrate intake can be restricted but not necessarily to the point where ketosis is induced. Ketosis is characterized by increased amounts of ketones in the bloodstream. Ketones are intermediate products of fat breakdown and substitute sources of energy to glucose. Ketosis indicates heightened state
of fat burning.

Myth Number 3: Low-carbohydrate, high protein diets cause osteoporosis
Fact: High protein intake in the presence of adequate calcium intake and alkaline low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables has no adverse effects on bone mass. Studies showed that high levels of protein and calcium act synergistically in increasing bone mineral density (BMD).

Myth Number 4: Low carbohydrate diets are safe.
Fact: Low carbohydrate diets are probably safe for most people, but there are some potential concerns.

  • Reducing intake of grains/cereals and fruits and limiting choice of vegetables, may lead to inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals.
  • Eating large amounts of high fat animal foods over a long period of time may increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some forms of cancer.
  • Eating a high protein diet can cause severe health problems in people with kidney disease. However, this has not been proven in healthy people.
  • During conditions of very low carbohydrate intake, ketosis occurs. People who practice ketogenic diet do not seem to experience the problem. However, ketosis may – occasionally cause fatigue, nausea, mental confusion, dehydration, constipation, kidney stones, gallstones and bruises.

For optimum health and weight management, eat a variety of foods. Concentrate on high fiber vegetables and fruits in your diet as they are essential for good health. In addition, include starches from unrefined sources like oats, cereals, wholegrain breads, pastas, fish, lean meats and low fat dairy foods. Diets don’t work, changing bad eating habits does.

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Comments:1

  1. Angelina Ramirez Reply
    10/10/10

    as science suggests, calorie restriction diets are great for longevity.”`

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