Low-carb diet: pros, cons, foods and interesting recipes

Low-carb diet: pros, cons, foods and interesting recipes

Benefits, harms, doctor’s advice and menu examples for a low-carb diet.

  • What kind of diet is this
  • The essence of the diet
  • Benefits and harms
  • Grocery list
  • Menu for the week
  • Recipes

The material was commented on:

Jolanta Langauer, nutritionist, parapharmacist, president of the International Association of Naturopathic Medicine, founder of the PhytoScience Academy;

Stanislav Kim, chef of the Momonga bistro in the Three Stations gastronomic quarter. Depot”;

Evgeniy Daldin, chef of the corner “Oh, My Bowl!”

What is a low carb diet

Simple carbohydrates do not provide satiety for a long time: if you eat a bun, then after some time you will want to eat again

A low-carbohydrate diet is a diet in which carbohydrates are eliminated to a minimum. It is impossible to completely remove them from the diet: they are found almost everywhere, including in fruits and vegetables that are essential for health. But minimizing “harmful” simple carbohydrates is quite possible.

A low-carbohydrate diet can be prescribed by a doctor and selected by a nutritionist, even in the absence of chronic diseases. It will be especially useful for those who seek to normalize weight. Simple carbohydrate molecules are quickly broken down and absorbed, sharply increasing blood sugar levels, which leads to insulin spikes. This promotes fat deposition. At the same time, simple carbohydrates do not provide satiety for a long time: if you eat a bun, then after some time you will want to eat again.

The essence of a low-carb diet: basic principles

It is important that the diet is varied and complete; a lack of nutrients can lead to a slower metabolism and weight gain in the future.

It is important that the diet is varied and complete; a lack of nutrients can lead to a slower metabolism and weight gain in the future.

The essence of a low-carb diet is to avoid foods that consist primarily of simple carbohydrates: white flour products (including bread and pasta), potatoes, white rice, honey, high-sugar confectionery, fast food and sausages (1). Ideally, you don’t need to eat them at all, but any strict restrictions often lead to breakdowns. Try, especially in the initial stages of switching to this type of diet, to consume these foods as rarely as possible. It is important that the diet is varied and complete. Not getting enough nutrients can lead to slower metabolism and future weight gain (2).

Basic principles of a low-carb diet:

  • refusal of any flour products and sweets;
  • adding healthy oils to the diet – flaxseed, olive, coconut;
  • consumption of foods high in fiber (bran, cereals, almonds, legumes), which helps reduce excess weight (3);
  • fractional nutrition and control of the volume of portions eaten: it is better to eat little by little four to five times a day than to consume the entire amount of calories at one time;
  • exclusion of not only sugar, but also honey, molasses, sucrose;
  • refusal of starch, including in vegetables – potatoes, corn;
  • exclusion of sweet carbonated drinks and alcohol.

This diet is similar to the keto diet, in which the body gets 70–75% of its calories from fat (4).

Low-carb diet: pros, cons, foods and interesting recipes

Low-carb diet for insulin resistance

Insulin resistance is a condition caused by a lack of the hormone insulin. Either the pancreas does not produce enough of it, or it is inadequately consumed by the body. With this diagnosis, it is especially important to control the amount of carbohydrates in the diet.

Low carbohydrate diet for diabetes

Insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes, and in some cases chronic insulin injections may be required. In type 1 diabetes, it occurs due to a genetic predisposition and often appears in childhood. In both the first and second cases, it is important to discuss with your doctor an appropriate diet based on the principles of a low-carbohydrate diet.

Low carb diet for weight loss

The most effective diet is one that you can stick to consistently (with the rare exception of snacking) (5). This is a way of life, not temporary difficulties “to lose weight by summer.” When following a low-carb diet, you should not only eliminate carbohydrates, but also add protein, which helps normalize weight (6).

The benefits and harms of a low-carb diet

Reducing carbohydrates is beneficial for those who want to lose weight and normalize blood pressure

Reducing carbohydrates is beneficial for those who want to lose weight and normalize blood pressure

Any diet and even product has pros and cons, and a low-carb diet is no exception.

pros

  1. Reducing carbohydrate intake is beneficial for those who want to lose weight and normalize blood pressure (7), (8).
  2. This is a very filling diet due to the protein and healthy fats it contains (9).
  3. The diet gives quick results: already in the first weeks, excess fluid that was retained by carbohydrates disappears (10).
  4. The fewer carbohydrates, the lower the level of triglycerides in the blood, substances that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (11).
  5. Some studies have shown that a low-carb diet is better for losing belly fat than cutting out fat (12).

Minuses

  1. Carbohydrates in the diet are responsible for energy. If they are deficient, doctors diagnose loss of energy, impaired mental functioning, and sleep problems (13).
  2. Carbohydrates retain fluid, and if they are absent, you may experience frequent urination, which depletes the body of potassium and sodium reserves (14).
  3. If you cut out vegetables to reduce carbohydrates, your body may not have enough fiber needed for digestion (15).
  4. When fruits are excluded from the diet, deficiencies of vitamins A, B, and C often occur (16).

You should switch to any new diet gradually, without sudden changes. This is necessary so that the body can readjust itself without unnecessary stress. Often, when giving up habitual carbohydrates at first, nausea, an unstable emotional state and difficulty concentrating are observed, but these are temporary symptoms (17).

List of foods for a low carb diet

Approximate macronutrient ratios for a low-carb diet

Approximate macronutrient ratios for a low-carb diet

It is best to build an individual diet taking into account your tastes and food preferences. The more favorite foods it contains (with the exception of “forbidden” ones), the easier it will be to stick to your chosen diet.

For a low-carb diet, you need to add to the menu:

  • meat (beef, lamb, turkey, chicken);
  • fish and seafood (salmon, haddock, tuna, squid, shrimp);
  • whole chicken and quail eggs;
  • non-starchy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumbers);
  • fruits and berries low in carbohydrates (oranges, peaches, pineapples, plums, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries);
  • nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pistachios);
  • high-fat dairy products (cheese, butter, cream, Greek yogurt);
  • fats and oils (lard, avocado, flaxseed, olive, coconut oil).
The more favorite foods you have in your diet (with the exception of “forbidden” ones), the easier it will be for you to stick to your chosen diet.

The more favorite foods you have in your diet (with the exception of “forbidden” ones), the easier it will be for you to stick to your chosen diet.

Products that are acceptable to add in moderation (no more than once or twice a week):

  • starchy vegetables and grains (potatoes, yams, millet, corn, quinoa, oats);
  • fruits high in carbohydrates (bananas, pineapples, mangoes);
  • legumes (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas);
  • whole milk;
  • bitter dark chocolate with cocoa content of at least 70%;
  • dry wines without added sugar.

Dark chocolate and alcohol can…