A high-carb diet gets your body used to burning carbohydrates for energy instead of burning your excess body fat.
Switching to a low-carb diet reverses this process. After just a few days of not eating carbs, your body enters the metabolic state of ‘ketosis’, which means that it burns your fat-stores to produce energy.
Eating carbs causes your blood-sugar levels to fluctuate like the climbs and dips in a rollercoaster ride. One minute they’re up, then the next minute they’re down – the post-lunch ‘afternoon crash’ being a classic example. A big bowl of leftover pasta or a sandwich meal-deal might be convenient and initially satisfying, but loading up on carbs like this will set you up for a fall an hour or two down the line.
Cutting out carbs and entering ketosis causes your blood-sugar levels to stabilise, preventing the rollercoaster effect altogether. And within a week or so of living the low-carb way, you’ll feel more energetic overall.
A carb-heavy diet causes a cycle of craving, which in turn can lead to overeating. During carb-induced crashes, we feel as though we need to top up our energy levels by having even more carb-heavy foods, thereby continuing the cycle.
Once you stop eating carb-rich foods, those crashes and the resulting cravings disappear. Each of your meals becomes much more satisfying, leaving you feeling fuller for longer.
Carbohydrates cause your body to retain water, so the more carbs you eat, the more bloated you’ll feel.
When you start to follow a reduced-carb diet, you take in higher amounts of protein and fat than you did before, and both of these help your body shed excess water more readily. As a result of this, you should start to feel less bloated within a week or two.
Without a high concentration of carbs in your diet, you won’t ride the blood-sugar rollercoaster, and therefore you won’t be subject to the mood-plunges that come with the crashes.
The low-carb approach to meals and snacking means that your overall mood is more likely to remain high and stable throughout the day. The initial carb-cravings may be difficult to work through, but you’ll be thankful once you have.
Many diets focus on a strict or heavily reduced amount of calories, the idea being that the fewer you consume, the more quickly you start to lose weight. If this does work for you at all, it will only work in the short term. And it is an unsustainable and unhealthy way to live, because even if you are able to stick to the daily calorie quota, you’ll be denying yourself the nourishment you actually need.
Instead of being about how many calories you’re eating, the low-carb lifestyle is about what you’re eating. There is such a thing as too many calories, of course – but not all calories are equal. 2,000 calories of mostly carbs does not equate to 2,000 calories of mostly protein and fat.
Some diets (especially the fad variety) make dining out difficult. Sometimes the menu will have nothing that your diet approves of.
Low-carb living isn’t like that. You can have all the meat and fish you want – sirloin steak, lamb chops, Atlantic salmon, seabass, and all those other delicious cuts – plus vegetables with butter. You may need to occasionally ask for an ingredient to be left out or added, but any restaurant worth its salt will gladly accommodate a small request like that!
It’s a common misconception that you need a bellyful of carbs to fuel your exercise. You really don’t.
Body fat contains thousands of calories that can be burned for energy during exercise, and this is what will happen if you follow a low-carb diet. Not only does this approach lead to quicker and more efficient weight-loss (if that is your goal), but it also means that you are less likely to suffer from mid-exercise burnout.
Contrary to popular belief, not all cholesterol is bad for you. In fact, cholesterol is an essential type of fat that you need in your body.
Low-carb staple foods such as fish and nuts contain healthy fats that work to increase your HDL cholesterol levels. HDL is the ‘good’ type of cholesterol – the one that removes the ‘bad’ type (LDL) from your bloodstream, which helps to prevent fat from building up in the wrong places (such as your arteries).
Unlike fad diets, the low-carb way of living is sustainable and enjoyable in the long term. You will achieve your initial weight-wellness goals, and then you will be able to maintain your target weight without cravings or temptations.
Once you have been through the four phases of Atkins, you will know your body’s carb tolerance (everyone’s is different), and this will allow you to keep your diet nicely balanced for years and decades to come.