Getting Started on a Low Carb Diet

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Low Carb Lifestyle Today!

5 Incredible Benefits of Low Carb Diet

Low Carb Benefits

Following a low carbohydrate diet provides many benefits. You’ve likely begun to learn this as you begin your journey to changing your dietary lifestyle. There are exciting studies that demonstrate the benefits of modifying overall carbohydrate intake. Each person may experience different results given their medical history, unique physiological make-up, and how well they are implementing the other variables that make up a healthy lifestyle (i.e. sleep, stress management, exercise, etc).

Reduction in Appetite

While limiting the foods high in carbohydrates your body responds with increased satiety making it an easier transition to lower calorie intake.  When you restrict fat intake, many find they battle with hunger.  Having fat and protein in the diet leads to a significant reduction in appetite.  A study was conducted with low carb diet, low fat diet, and a ketogenic diet evaluating mood, food cravings, and other symptoms.  Study outcomes indicated all diets elicited improvements.  Symptoms specific to negative affect and hunger were improved to a greater degree in those following a low carb diet. (1)

You can imagine the ease of continuing a ‘diet’ is hunger is not a factor.  This leaves you with the time and energy to focus on other areas that might need improvement.  Bottom line you’ll easily see the benefits of feeling satisfied by modified your food choices under a low carbohydrate meal plan.

Weight Loss

You will lose water weight just like you would with any other big change in your diet.  This occurs as the body adjusts during that first week of calorie restriction.  With a low carb diet you glycogen stores become depleted eliminating water.  As insulin levels decline, this enables the kidneys to release sodium and the water that accompanies the mineral. (2, 3)  After this initial stage the body will revert to your body’s fat stores.  If you’re worried where the weight loss is occurring you might consider a DEXA scan that looks beyond bone density and shows the distribution of fat stores.

Health Benefits
The reduction in body fat enables greater health gains such as reduced blood pressure, reducing risk of heart disease, cancer, hyperlipidemia, etc.  Studies have evaluated the impact of following a low-carb diet which may indicate the benefits of the weight loss and the impact of the dietary changes on the body.

Atkins came out on top in a study conducted in 2007, looking at weight loss and other secondary parameters that included lipid profile, body fat, waist-hip ration, blood pressure, insulin and glucose levels. (4)  To some it may come as a surprise that a low carb diet has a greater impact on triglycerides and improving HDL levels than a low fat diet.  One study compared the two types of diets and found the low carb group has greater decreases in triglycerides, increase in HDL and LDL. (5)

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Those that are pre-diabetic or are facing type 2 diabetes have impaired insulin sensitivity.  Following a low carbohydrate diet for these individuals improves blood sugar regulation and a significantly higher amount of weight weight loss compared to fat reduction diets.  The Endocrine Society evaluated insulin sensitive women comparing the response to low fat and low carb diets, both groups lost weight throughout the 12 week study period though low carb elicited 21% higher weight loss than the low fat group. (6)  Other studies have evaluated the low carb diet and insulin resistance.  In obese subjects following a low carbohydrate at various intervals improved insulin resistance across the following studies. (7,8).

Easy To Follow

There are simply modifications to traditional dishes such as quesadilla with low carb tortilla, bunless bacon cheeseburger, lettuce tacos, etc.  Most restaurants tailor a section of their menu to low carb eating or can easily be adapted to fit your low carb needs.  By picking the right items, no matter the situation (a quick last minute fast food stop, dinner with friends, BBQ, Birthday party or Holiday’s) there are easy and smart substitutions that can be made (e.g. salad vs French fries, skip the potato salad stick with raw veggies and dip, be prepared and bring a dish or two that fits your needs), you will never have to go hungry and you can still feel good about your choices.  Beyond the many food choices that you have to enjoy embrace the benefits of reduced hunger as this makes the transition to low carb eating a makes living a low carb lifestyle totally achievable.

Sources
Sources

  1. McClernon FJ, et al.  The effects of a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet on mood, hunger, and other self-reported symptoms.  Obesity. 2007 Jan;15(1):182-7.
  2. Swasti Tiwari, et al.  Insulin’s impact on renal sodium transport and blood pressure in health, obesity, and diabetes.  American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. October 2007; Vol. 293, no. F974-F984.
  3. Hernandez, T et al.  Lack of suppression of circulating free fatty acids and hypercholesterolemia during weight loss on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.. Am J Clin Nutr. March 2010; 91 (3), 578-585.
  4. Gardner, C et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women.  JAMA. 2007; 297(9): 969-977.
  5. Brinkworth, G et al.  Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo.  Am J Clin Nutr July 2009; 90 (10):23-32.
  6. The Endocrine Society (2001). Cutting carbs is more effective than low-fat diet for insulin-resistant women, study finds. Science Daily. Retrieved February 22, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/06/100619173919.htm.
  7. Volek JS, et al.  Comparison of a very low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet on fasting lipids, LDL subclasses, insulin resistance, and postprandial lipemic responses in overweight women. J Am Coll Nutr. Apr 2004 ;23(2):177-84.
  8. Sorvacheva TN, et al.  Efficacy of low-carbohydrate diet in the treatment of obesity in adolescents.  Vopr Pitan. (Russian Publication) 2007;76(3):29-34
As you experience these benefits, hopefully this will give you the motivation and appreciation for your efforts that you deserve. Do keep in mind, as previously mentioned, results can differ based off your health status, many physiological factors, and your individual goals.

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Nicole Barnick, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.

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