Low-carb Diets: All Hype, or Healthy and Helpful?

    Bacon and Broccoli and Salmon, oh my! Is there anything more delicious than a low-carb diet?

    There is so much back and forth going on about low-carb diets these days that it’s hard to know what to believe! Some people claim that low carb is just a fad diet which promotes unhealthy, yo-yo dieting, substantially increases your risk of heart disease, and can’t realistically be followed in the long-term. Others insist that low-carb diets have been around forever, that weight loss is healthy and sustainable overtime, and that it is actually heart healthy – not the opposite. So who’s telling the truth? We decided to take a closer look at these claims to sort out fact from fiction. Spoiler alert: you’re going to want to read to the end for the shocking conclusion!

    Analyzing (and Refuting) the Major Low-Carb Claims

    Low carb claim #1: it’s a new, fad diet that won’t stand the test of time.

    The truth is that low carb diets are not a fad. As a matter of fact, they’ve been around in published medical texts since the 1860s, if not longer. They’re exceptionally useful for treating brain diseases like seizure disorders – but it’s only within the last couple of decades that people have discovered the weight loss benefits inherent in low-carb eating.

    Low carb claim #2: these diets are hard to stick to and not sustainable over the long haul.

    The unfortunate truth is that high carbohydrate, ultra-processed food is everywhere. Some people don’t have the time to cook their own meals and have to rely on processed food to get calories. Some people have an active social life and eat a lot, and there simply aren’t many healthy low-carb options in the food service industry. Furthermore, some people are literally addicted to carbohydrates the same way a drug addict is addicted to heroin. It’s tough to break the cycle – but studies show that most people who do manage to break it tend to stick to a low-carb lifestyle over any other diet.

    Low carb claim #3: Your body can’t survive without eating carbs.

    The truth is that you don’t need to eat carbs to live. Your body can make its own glucose from fat and protein, and the body needs very little of it to begin with – the rest of its energy needs can be easily supplanted by ketones (from either dietary or stored fat). As long as you’re reasonably metabolically healthy, your body will happily burn off its own stored fat and produce ketones for energy from that.

    Low carb claim #4: you lose weight on a low-carb diet by eating fewer calories – so if counting calories works, why not just eat whatever you want?

    This claim is only partially true. But Unlike with other diets, the reason you’re eating fewer calories on a low-carb diet is because you’re also experiencing more fullness at the end of your meals and getting more fiber in your diet from low-carb fruits and veggies.

    Low-carb diets curb the hunger cravings which people experience when counting their calories on a high-carb diet. This insatiable hunger is the reason why most diets fail. The majority of people on a low-carb diet don’t even have to count calories because eating low-carb restores metabolic hormone response at mealtime, helping you feel fuller for longer on less food.

    Low carb claim #5: you only lose water weight on a low-carb diet.

    Most of it, in the beginning, is. But why is that a bad thing? Who wants to be sloshing around and feeling bloated all day just so that they don’t have to give up bread? In the long run, studies show that low-carb eaters lost more fat – especially dangerous abdominal and liver fat – and preserve substantially more muscle than people who lose weight on a higher carbohydrate diet.

    Low carb claim #6: Low-carb is bad for heart health.

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    Is Bacon Still The Silent Heart-Killer? Or Is There Something Else Going On?

    According to recent research, this claim is blatantly false. For starters, we have finally discovered that dietary cholesterol, which is abundant in low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein foods, doesn’t have nearly as much impact on our heart disease risk as we once thought. So there goes that theory.

    But when you eat high fat and high carb together, all hell breaks loose. Triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol skyrocket, along with blood pressure and inflammation. This is what’s bad for your heart – not low carb foods by themselves. It’s also worth noting that a high-carbohydrate diet is higher in plant oils and omega-6 fatty acids which have been recently linked to increased heart disease risk.

    There you have it – the top 6 low carb claims addressed and – where necessary – refuted. If you’re thinking about trying a low-carb diet, you couldn’t pick a better time. Stock up on the fresh produce and healthy meats, and enjoy your new diet!