People often turn to low carbohydrate diets to lose weight fast. The high fat ketogenic diet is especially popular with dieters who prefer fast results instead of fruit, bread or chips. But keto is not the only way to become low carbohydrate. The main premise of the diet is to force your body into the fat burning mode or into the ketosis by consuming very few carbohydrates. Dieticians recommend consuming no more than 20 to 30 grams of carbs per day to achieve this metabolic state.
Other low carbohydrate diets are not nearly as drastic. So, what does "low carb" mean and why does it help you lose weight? We answer your most urgent questions.
What is a carbohydrate?
Each bite contains one of three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Although many foods contain all of these macronutrients, most of them tend to be one or two strong. For example, meat is loaded with protein, bread is mainly carbohydrates, and olive oil is mostly fat. Your body needs all three to function.
What is a low carbohydrate diet?
The term "low carbohydrate" is commonly used but is not easy to define. According to Kacie Vavrek, a nutritionist at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, many types of diets can be considered low in carbohydrates, including the Mediterranean, Atkins, and Paleo.
"It can be many different things ̵
Each diet can have different carbohydrate restrictions, but essentially you eat only fewer carbohydrates than usual, she says.
"That will mean different things to different people."
Why do low-carbohydrate diets cause weight loss?
The pounds seem to be dwindling if you omit foods like oatmeal, starchy vegetables, fruits and bread. But all these substances are considered nutritious. So what's up?
Carbohydrates are stored in your body as glycogen, which your body uses for energy. Each gram of glycogen contains approximately three grams of water, says Nick Clayton, C.S.C.S., Personal Training Program Manager of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Your body stores this water whenever you eat carbohydrates. In fact, according to Clayton, about 70 percent of the initial weight loss is water.
Nevertheless, low carbohydrate diets may be beneficial, Vavrek explains.
"I actually recommend my patients low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss," she says.
Reducing the amount of carbohydrate in your day can help you reduce total calories. In addition, you will probably eat more nutritious foods and cut out snacks like Doritos.
"The reason I like carbohydrate-controlled diets is that when we cut carbohydrates, we tend to produce more protein and healthy fat so that we feel full for longer," explains Vavrek.