Low-Carb Diets: The Good, the Bad and the Unhealthy
What diet, when followed, will result in weight loss? What diet is safe,
healthy and can help you maintain your weight for many years after the
diet? Americans are looking for ways to lose weight. They want it quick.
They want the weight to stay off. There are many fad diets that will
take the weight off. Sadly, most will not keep the weight off for long.
The popular diets now are the lowcarb diets. These diets limit the
amount of carbohydrates to less than 30 grams a day. Protein and high
take the place of carbohydrates in these diets. Most high protein/low
carb diets have different “ phases” or steps to the diet
plan. The first phase is usually the most difficult. That is because
it severely restricts the types of foods you can eat, usually carbohydrate
foods. In addition, the number of calories is also restricted to between
1200 and 1500 calories. Vitamins and mineral supplements have to be
added to the diet to make up for those missing from the diet. They
tell you “exercise is essential.”
There is a lot of debate
over how safe these types of diets are. Protein, carbohydrates, and
fats are nutrients that give our bodies energy in the form of glucose.
bodies work better on glucose from carbohydrates. Thirty grams of
carbohydrates is not enough. When we don’t get enough from them, our bodies will
get the glucose by breaking down protein from the lean tissue in our
bodies. The fats we eat need carbohydrates to be metabolized properly.
Without carbohydrates, fats are converted into ketones. This results
in a condition called ketosis. Ketosis can be dangerous to some people
with certain medical conditions.
At minimum, we should be getting 130
grams of carbohydrates everyday. We get carbohydrates by eating
foods such as bread and cereals, fruit, vegetables, and milk and three
milk products. One slice of bread can give our bodies as much as 15
grams of carbohydrates.
of fruit or a cup of milk, can also give us about 15 grams. By
limiting our intake to 30 grams, we are not getting the variety of
foods we should
be getting everyday.
The fact is, all low-calorie diets that include
exercise will result in weight loss. It doesn’t matter how
much protein, carbohydrate, or fat is in the diet. They tend to
be hard to
follow, and they are boring and hard to maintain over a lifetime.
There is no “magic pill” or “magic diet.”
The number of calories going in versus the number of calories going
weight loss or gain.
The best kind of diet is one that you can start
and stay with for the rest of your life. It should be nutritionally
adequate. It should contain a balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
allow you to eat any type of healthy food, as long as you do not
over eat. It will provide almost all the nutrients you need for good
without adding vitamin or mineral supplements. It will require
exercise or other types of physical activity. Replacing “bad” carbohydrates
such as potato chips, cookies, cakes and pies with healthier ones
is a better way to control weight and be healthy.
Written by Lynnette Mensah,
Nutrition and Wellness Educator,
University of Illinois Extension
Edited by: Katherine Reuter,
Extension Educator, Consumer and Family Economics, University of Illinois
Extension, Countryside Extension Center.
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