Low carb diets have become increasingly popular with many people experiencing significant weight loss, improved energy levels, and better overall health. But what are the real benefits of a low carb diet?
In this post, we will take a comprehensive look at the benefits of a low carb diet, and discuss how it can help you lose weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your blood sugar control, and boost your brain function.
Reducing Appetite and Losing Weight
One of the striking benefits of going low carb is the automatic reduction in your appetite. Instead of battling your cravings, you’ll see a reduction in them. Cutting carbs means eating more protein and fat, which helps avoid the persistent hunger that often accompanies other diets. This naturally leads to a decrease in calorie intake without having to consciously count every bite!
Another thrilling benefit is the speed at which a low carb diet can set your weight loss journey in motion. While much of the loss in the first two weeks is from water weight (due to removal of excess sodium in the kidneys and excess water in the organs), the initial kick start can be highly motivating! A low carb diet is more effective than the Standard American Diet for reducing body weight while maintaining lean mass and resting metabolic rate.
Finally, a low carb diet as been shown to reduce visceral fat. This is the fat that wraps around your waist and the organs inside your body. Visceral fat raises your risk for serious medical conditions, including heard disease, Alzheimer’s, Type 2 Diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure.
Reducing Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
Another major advantage of a low carb diet is its ability to combat heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Low carb diets do a fantastic job at increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, commonly known as the “good” cholesterol. It also significantly lowers triglycerides, the main fat-carrying particle in the bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol (especially relative to “bad” LDL cholesterol) and lower levels of triglycerides reduce the risk of heart disease.
For those with diabetes or insulin resistance, following a low carb diet can truly be a game-changer. Low carb diets can drastically lower blood sugar and insulin levels, making diabetes management not only possible, but also more efficient. Improving glycemic control may reduce the need for insulin and/or hypoglycemic medications. In fact, diet was the main intervention for diabetic patients prior to the invention of insulin. You guessed it — a ketogenic diet very low in carbs! There is evidence that a ketogenic diet can also improve health and adverse events in those with type 1 diabetes.
Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) strains the body and may lead to serious health events such as a stroke or heart attack. Low carb diets can play a significant role in controlling blood pressure by reducing the consumption of processed carbohydrates. Processed foods typically contain high sugar and sodium levels, both of which can contribute to elevated blood pressure.
Benefits for the Brain
It’s not just the body that could potentially reap the benefits of a low carb diet, but also the brain. When carbs are not present, the body converts fat into energy called ketones. Ketones are a “super-fuel” that can readily pass the blood brain barrier and more efficiently be used by brain cells.
The ketogenic diet has been used as a treatment for epilepsy in children for decades. The diet reduces seizures in individuals with epilepsy significantly, even in those who have found no success with multiple types of medication. The Charlie Foundation offers a great resource to learn more.
Emerging research indicates there may be benefits for other brain conditions as well. Low carb diets are now being used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases.
In addition, a low carb diet can improve clarity and focus in those without neurological conditions. There is evidence that a low carb diet may even improve symptoms of mental health disorders and prevent cognitive decline!
In this article, we’ve discussed how a low carb diet can provide substantial health benefits. Here are the key takeaways:
- Low carb diets can help in reducing appetite and calorie intake automatically, assisting in weight loss.
- Low carb diets can promote an increase of “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
- For those with diabetes or insulin resistance, cutting carbs can effectively lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Low carb diets can help lower blood pressure through the reduction of processed carbohydrates.
- Low carb diets can improve cognitive function, and are being used as treatment for certain brain conditions, including Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
Low carb diets boast numerous potential health benefits, but, as with any diet, it’s important to consult with your doctor.
Ready to begin? Check out How to Get Started with Low Carb