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Low Carb Diets

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One of the most popular diets these days is the low-carb diet that is high in protein and low in carbs, like those promoted by "The Atkins Diet Revolution," "Enter The Zone," and "Sugar Busters," just to name a few. With all the diets out there and this latest low-carb trend, you may be wondering: Do carbs really make you fat?


If you're confused about carbohydrates, you're not alone. Carbs are one of the six nutrients used by the body for energy and 1 gram=4 calories. Carbs are important because they:

  • Are the main main source of fuel for the body

  • Are quickly and easily used by the body for energy

  • Can be stored in the muscles for exercise

  • Provide lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber

  • Help your body function properly without fatigue


The trick is to choose the right kinds of carbs and, of course, eat a reasonable amount of them. Too many carbs (or too much of anything, really) can be stored as fat.


So what is 'low-carb'?

  • The National Academy of Sciences recommends no less than 120 grams of carbs per day

  • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 300 grams of carbs per 2000 calories (about 60% of total calories)

  • The Atkins Diet initially recommends 20 grams per day (less than 5%)


While we don't know which, if any, recommendation is right, recent studies in the New England Journal of Medicine report that participants who successfully followed low-carb plans for six months lost more weight than those who ate low-fat. Those on the Atkins diet raised their levels of 'good' HDL cholesterol.


Note: Almost half the participants dropped out of their programs and, after a year, the Atkin's followers regained up to a third of the pounds they lost.


There's no question that people lose weight on low-carb diets, but extreme low carb dieting, such as the Atkins diet, can be nutritionally deficient and hard to follow. The best type of low-carb dieting is to consume carbs within reason. Try cutting out breads, pastas, potatoes and potato products for a start. Just removing these items with your diet will help you to lose weight.