Should You Follow a Low Carb Diet?
Within the last ten years, many scientific studies have proven that a low carb diet can help overweight people by improving overall health, reducing weight and lowering blood pressure. Although you cannot expect to lose a substantial amount of weight with a low carbohydrate diet, you can still improve your general health and cardiovascular function. However, there are many other great benefits that you can experience from following a carbohydrate restricted diet.
What is a Low Carb Diet?
A low carb diet is about teaching your body how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with out the extra fats and bad carbohydrates. By starving your body from refined sugars, soft drinks and other snacks and minimizing the amount of carbs you take in per day you will feel 100% better within a few weeks. By lowering your consumption of bread, potatoes, pasta, corn and rice your body will feel more energized. The only carbohydrates that you should consume are to be found in fruit and vegetables, however, limiting your intake is essential.
When practicing this diet, you will need to replace carbohydrate consumption with natural healthy fats in order to provide energy to your body. This includes animal fat, dairy fat and fat derived from plants. Once you have regained control of your health and weight, then you can reintroduce carbohydrates into your diet, in moderate amounts. Always remember to exercise regularly in order to stay in control of your body, and avoid low-fat dairy products, because they are usually rich in artificial sugars.
Before you decide to begin your low carb diet, consult your physician and check your blood pressure, sugar and lipids levels. If you take a few simple baseline tests, then the doctor will be able to determine if your body is ready for the change in lifestyle. Also, stay aware of what the doctors and medical professionals have to say about the new diet, because you may have to drink soup broth in order to replace the loss of sodium that is associated with low carb dieting. There is a wide range of benefits that you can experience while following a low carb diet, but keep in mind that everyone’s body works in different ways.
Nine Great Benefits of Following a Low Carb Diet
- You will be able to lose weight.
Scientific studies and years of research have finally proven that a LCHF (low carb high fat) diet can in fact reduce weight in dieters. Although the amount of weight loss will vary between dieters, it will also depend on how dedicated you are to eliminating sugar and carbs from your diet. If you exercise regularly while following this diet, then weight loss is guaranteed.
- Blood sugar levels will improve.
Scientific studies have also proven that low carb diets can significantly reduce levels of glycated hemoglobin and fasting glucose. If you are suffering from diabetes or pre-diabetes, then a low carb diet can be highly beneficial for you. LCHF diets can provide great benefits to anyone with a metabolic syndrome.
- Blood pressure will lower.
While high blood pressure is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease and stroke, a low carb diet can essentially lower your blood pressure to safe levels. Overweight and obese people are at a high risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, but following a LCHF diet will help regulate blood flow while promoting weight loss.
- Triglyceride levels will improve.
Maintaining proper triglyceride levels is essential for cardiovascular disease prevention. A high level of triglyceride is commonly associated with abnormal metabolism, obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes and low levels of cholesterol. While there are many risk factors that can stem from improper triglyceride levels, studies have proven that a carbohydrate restricted diet can significantly lower these levels safely and efficiently.
- HDL cholesterol can improve.
Cholesterol can pose a dangerous threat in low and high levels, and coronary heart disease as well as other cardiovascular diseases are directly related to improper HDL cholesterol levels. While low levels are associated with the risk of heart disease, a carbohydrate restricted diet will substantially increase blood levels of cholesterol.
- LDL particle amount will improve.
These particles come in various shapes and sizes. LDL paricles can be fluffy, large molecules or small, dense molecules. People who have LDL particles that are significantly dense and small have a high risk of developing coronary heart disease. By following a low carb diet, your body will eliminate the amount of small, dense LDL particles, and store the large, fluffy molecules for protective purposes.
- Insulin resistance can be reversed.
Individuals with metabolic syndrome and diabetes most commonly experience resistance to insulin. This is usually related to abnormal lipid levels, and it can actually lead to cardiovascular disease if left untreated. Studies have indicated that carbohydrate restricted diets will significantly lower the body’s resistance to insulin, compared to a typical low fat diet.
- Levels of insulin begin to drop.
Having high insulin levels most likely means that your body is resistant to insulin. High levels of insulin in the blood (Hyperinsulinemia) is a huge risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. In order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, you will need to follow a strict low carb diet and your body will begin to lower insulin levels.
- C-reactive proteins can be reduced.
CRP is a known indication of inflammation within the body, and it is usually measured in the bloodstream. This is yet another protein that can lead to risks of developing cardiovascular disease. Scientific evidence has shown that a carbohydrate restricted diet will essentially lower the levels of CRP, which is another indication that LCHF diets can reduce inflammation.
There are many other great benefits that a carbohydrate restricted diet can offer. These diets are most commonly used for heart disease prevention, especially with obese people, and LCHF diets will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle while losing a few pounds. Although this diet is important for diabetics and people suffering from cardiovascular disease, it works differently for each person and is not recommended for everyone. It is important that you consult your physician before beginning a low carb diet, and make sure that your body’s nutrient levels are in proper condition to begin the diet. LCHF diets will not only reduce blood pressure, prevent heart disease and help you lose weight, but they will also promote a healthier way of living.
Your New Low Carb Dinner Plate
During Atkins Induction, most of your calories will come from healthy fat, about a third will come from protein, and less than 10 percent will come from carbohydrates. The fat/protein/carb ratios suggested below represent an average range and are approximate. Most dieters adjust the ratio slightly to fit their personal needs/goals. For example, a low carb dieter who is weight lifting or building muscle may eat a higher percentage of protein and a little less fat. Regardless, during Atkins Induction the bulk of your calories should come from fat, and you should limit your total carbohydrate intake to 20 grams or less per day. You may eat any item on the Atkins Induction foods listbelow.
Fat and Oil
Aim for 60-65% of total calories from fat and oils. Adequate fat content is vital to the success of your low carb diet. Dr. Atkins advises eating a balance of natural fats (with a concentration on olive oil), and avoiding trans fats.
Aim for 20-25% of total calories from protein sources. Most protein foods, such as meat, seafood and eggs are zero carb or very close to it.
Aim for 5-10% of total calories from carbohydrates in the form of vegetables. During Atkins Induction, 12 to 15 grams per day of net carbs (total carbs minus the fiber) should come from vegetables.
Special Additional Foods
Small amounts of these foods may be added to your Induction food list:
- 2 to 3 tbs Lemon or Lime Juice
- 2 to 3 tbs Heavy Cream or 1 oz Sour Cream
- Sugar Substitutes: Sucralose (Splenda), Saccharine (Sweet N Low)
- 10 to 20 Green or Black Olives
- ½ Small Avocado (Avocado is a fruit, but allowed on Induction.)
- Low Carb Snack Bars
Note: Some low carbers cannot tolerate these, and their bodies treat the sugar alcohols as regular sugar, derailing weight loss efforts.
Real Life Atkins Induction Meal Plan
What are two weeks on Atkins Induction like for regular low carbers?
Designer and low carb Blogger, Jillian tells her Induction story with a two week meal journal, complete with photos (above) and an Induction-approved Mock Danish how-to video if you’re craving something sweet.
Atkins Induction Recipes
There’s an excellent low carb forum, A Pinch of Health, where Atkins Induction approved recipes are posted. This thread is updated monthly, but there are already 124 Induction friendly low carb recipes listed, including beef, veal, poultry, pork, lamb, soups, veggies, eggs, baked foods, desserts and sweets.
If you have trouble accessing the forum, here is the full URL: Courtesy Of: www.apinchofhealth.com/forum/vbb/showthread.php?4685-Atkins-Induction-Recipes
Official Atkins Induction Program
Dr. Atkins offers a free resource for planning your first two weeks of Induction. This publication includes 14 days of low carb meals, daily carb counts and Induction recipes.
Printable Atkins Induction Foods List
The items on this low carb foods list are your go-to foods during the Induction phase of Atkins.
Here are the details of the items featured on the printable Atkins Induction low carb foods list:
Meat, Fish, Poultry
Most fish, poultry and meat generally do not contain carbohydrates. The exceptions are processed bacon and deli meat, which often have added starch as binders. Be sure to check the labels. Enjoy cold-water fish and other low carb Induction foods containing omega 3 fatty acids.
- Meats: Bacon, Beef, Ham, Lamb, Pork, Veal, Venison
- Fish: Flounder, Herring, Salmon, Sardines, Sole, Tuna, Trout
- Shellfish: Clams, Crab, Mussels, Oysters, Shrimp, Squid
- Fowl: Cornish Hen, Chicken, Duck, Goose, Pheasant, Quail, Turkey
Eggs are a staple Atkins Induction food. Add mushrooms, onions and peppers with imported cheeses to an omelet.
Tip: Add low carb spices for zest (and added weight loss), and serve with a side of chunky bacon-feta-tomato salad.
All Eggs: Deviled, Fried, Hard-boiled, Omelets, Poached, Scrambled or Soft-boiled.
Most cheeses have less than 1 gm of carbs per ounce, but be sure to check the label. We are allowed 3 to 4 ounces of most cheeses every day during Atkins Induction, including cream cheese. The exceptions are: Cottage Cheese, Farmer’s Cheese and other fresh/raw cheeses. These cheeses do not apply to the 3 to 4 ounce rule.
About 12 to 15 net carbs each day should come from low carb vegetables. Choose the lowest carb veggies from the Atkins Induction food list, and you’ll be surprised how much you can eat.
Lowest Carb Vegetables for Atkins Induction
Low Carb Vegetables for Atkins Induction
These vegetables are slightly higher in carbohydrates than the lowest carb veggies above, but if you measure carefully, it’s simple to add them to your diet.
Spices and Herbs
Be sure to check for added sugar or starch.
Salad Dressings and Garnishes
If you choose a salad dressing not listed below, aim for less than 2 net carbs per serving.
Fats and Oils
There are no net carbs here, but a single serving equals 1 tablespoon. Focus on olive oil, especially virgin or extra-virgin. Butter and other saturated fats (like coconut oils and butters) are acceptable if eaten in balance with healthy fats.
- Mayonnaise (Select full fat with no added sugar.)
- Olive oil
- Vegetable Oils: Canola, Walnut, Soybean, Grape Seed, Sesame, Sunflower, Safflower
Dr. Atkins advises drinking eight, 8 oz glasses of water every day. Soda water or carbonated water with sugar-free flavors are ok, and diet sodas sweetened with sucralose (Splenda) are also acceptable.
- Clear Broth/Bouillon (Check for added sugar.)
- Cream: Heavy or Light
- Coffee and Tea: Decaffeinated or Regular
- Club Soda
- Diet Soda (Check the label for carbs.)
- Flavored Seltzer (Must be zero carb.)
- Herb Tea (No barley or fruit sugar added)
- Water: Filtered water, Mineral water, Spring water, Tap water
Dr. Atkins prefers sucralose (Splenda), but small amounts (2 to 3 servings) of saccharine (Sweet N Low) are also allowed.
Foods Not Allowed on Low Carb Diet Induction
Basically, here’s the rule: If it’s not on the Atkins Induction food list, it isn’t allowed.
Steer clear of the following:
- Grains and anything made with them, including bread, cake, pastries.
- Pasta, or anything else made of flour.
- Dairy products, except for cheeses and cream in limited quantities.
- Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, beets, corn.
- Fruits/Fruit Juice
- Deli Salad (Sliced deli meat often has added sugar and starch.)
- Any Processed Food
- Alcoholic Beverages
Search the Low Carb Diet Database for Atkins and Nutrition Information, Food Lists, Low Carb Recipes and eBooks:
Over 1.6 million low carb sources: medical, news, blogs, social, recipes, free downloads, eBooks, audio, images and video.
The Official Atkins Diet Program
Low Carb Forum Induction Recipes: A Pinch of Health
If you have trouble accessing the forum, here is the full URL: www.apinchofhealth.com/forum/vbb/showthread.php?4685-Atkins-Induction-Recipes
Jillian’s Induction Story: Heart of a Country Home
Low Carb Fruits & Veggies List
Free and Printable: Atkins Low Carb List