Carbohydrates are the body’s source of quick energy, like the molecular form of an energy bar (incidentally, energy bars are made mostly of carbohydrates.) Most of the energy used for daily activities comes from carbohydrates; the remainder is turned into fat and is deposited under the skin, where it is stored as a long term source of energy.
Fine and good, except too much fat makes you, well, fat. There is nothing wrong with being plump, but a healthy diet shouldn’t increase your weight beyond the optimum.
Low carb diets contain a high amount of protein and fat and fewer carbohydrates. Having no immediate source of energy, the body is forced to use its reserves of stored fat. This causes a quick (and noticeable) reduction in body weight.
The low carb diet has several benefits. For one thing, people on low carb diets tend to have less appetite swings or ‘cravings’. This is because low carb diets make the blood sugar level more stable. For diabetics, it actually improves insulin sensitivity, and it tends to reduce the amount of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood, leading to lower chances of heart disease.
A low carb diet reduces the amount of carbohydrates in the diet and thus lowers the amount of energy taken in. This creates an energy deficit, which, in turn, leads to weight loss. However, this method has been associated with a lot of side effects. All these side effects occur due to the production of high amount of ketones under low carb conditions in the body. These ketones are waste substances that result from the breakdown of fat which has been stored in fat cells underneath the skin. A few of the most common side effects are:
1. Foul smelling breath: Excess ketones find their way out of the body through urine and saliva; the latter is responsible for bad smelling breath. However, this problem can hardly been solved. In a few cases, sugar free gums and mints can improve the smell of the breath – though for a short period of time. Also, drinking several glasses of water throughout the day may also improve the breath smell.
2. Fatigue, light-headedness, lack of sleep and nausea: All these conditions occur when the body is shifting into the state of ketosis due to formation of excess ketones by carbohydrate deficit.
3. Effects on kidneys: The ketones pass out of the body through urine. As a result, they need to travel to the kidneys, where they cause stones, gout and even failure of the kidneys.
4. Heart Diseases: People on low carb diets replace the carbohydrates with protein and dairy products. These increase the level of cholesterol in the blood which, in turn, leads to a range of heart diseases.
A low carb diet has become very popular among people who wish to lose weight. It is often known by other names such as “controlled carbohydrate diet”, “low glycemic diet” and “reduced carbohydrate diet. The meaning of the term is vague. However, in most cases, it refers to a diet which has a low proportion of carbohydrates. The nature of the different types of low carb diets varies widely. For instance, a few of these eliminate sugary foods from the diets while others reduce the amount of all types of high-carb foods.
Since carbohydrates are high in calories, eliminating them from the diet reduces the number of calories taken in. This results in an energy deficit, which in turn leads to weight loss. Many types of low carb diets have become extremely popular over the last decade. A few examples are Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Sugar Busters, Protein Power, Zone, South Beach and Atkins.
However, undertaking a low carb diet does not mean eating no carbohydrates at all. Rather, it means that the calories coming from the carbohydrates should be between 50 and 60 per cent of the total food calories. This range is safe as well as effective for losing weight. If the percentage of carbohydrates falls much lower than this, it results in fatigue and other serious health conditions.
Obesity is a major problem in the United States. The number of overweight and obese people in the population is increasing every year. This is of great concern since obesity can lead to a host of diseases, especially of the heart. As a result, many people have started working out and eating healthy foods to bring down their weight to safe levels. However, the greatest challenge for them is to find whether their weight loss techniques are working. This can be done by measuring their weight regularly. A simple weight balance can serve such purpose.
However, there are many limitations associated with the above method. For a start, it does not tell whether the loss in weight is due to loss of body fat or loss of muscles. As a result, more sophisticated means of measuring body fat is required. This is where body fat percentage (BFP) monitor comes in. This works similarly to weight scale machines; however, the main difference is that it measures weight as well as percentage of body fat.
The BFP machines can also be a source of motivation during the early periods of weight loss. When the body starts to undertake physical activity, it gains a higher amount of muscle content. Since muscles weight much more than fat, there is an increase in the weight levels, even if the body has lost fat. However, a BFP machine records the change in body fat levels and ensures the person that his or her weight loss method is working.
People are so busy these days that they cannot find enough time to engage in physical activities regularly – which is crucial for losing weight in the long run. Although it is impossible to significant weight without exercise, there are a few easier methods which can help in shedding a few pounds of weight. Most of these methods seem fairly easy but they must be done regularly. The most popular of these methods are:
1. Taking a number of small meals throughout the day: This makes sure that the body is never hungry – which helps prevent overeating, the number# 1 cause of obesity. This technique is much more effective than starvation in the long run.
2. Drinking several glasses of water: Water, especially cold water, uses up calories to come down to body temperatures. In addition, drinking a glass of water before every meal reduces appetite and prevents overeating during the meal. In general, a person should strive for drinking about 8 to 10 glasses of (cold) water.
3. Keeping a food journal: By recording when and how much a person eats, he or she will get to know more about their eating habits and which habits need to be changed to bring down weight to desirable levels.