What Makes a Low-Carb Diet Different to Other Diets?

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Posted by Linda O'Byrne (Atkins Nutritionist)

Low-carb is about giving your body the right sort of fuel, rather than functioning on less fuel overall. It’s about sustainable weight-wellness.

A low-carb diet focuses on the reduction of refined carbohydrates and sugar, which makes it unlike most other diets. Low-carb is also about more than just weight-loss, because it promotes a generally healthier way of living that is sustainable in the long term.

The science of low carb: A brief intro

Living low-carb prompts your body to burn its excess fat for fuel, rather than burning the glycogen it gets from carbohydrates – and this is why low-carb is such an effective weight-loss strategy for so many people.

Think of it this way: when carbohydrates are your primary macronutrient, your body assumes that you want them to be used as your main fuel source, and that you want your body fat to be reserved as an emergency fuel source – in case you ever find yourself without food for an extended period of time. By purposely reducing your intake of carbs, however, you give your body no choice but to burn your excess fat for energy. This process is called ketosis.

So what do other popular diets differently to this?

Many diets out there are centred on restricting calories or avoiding fats – or both. These tactics look logical on paper, but in practice they only bring short-term success (if any) and they are not sustainable. Here’s why:

  • When you consume too few calories (which many of these diets stipulate), your energy levels are constantly lower than they should be, leaving you lethargic and hungry
  • When you boycott dietary fats, your meals are less filling and therefore less satisfying, which results in cravings for unhealthy snacks

Some calorie-restricting diets permit foods of all kinds, with the only rule being that you stay under the daily calorie-limit. The problem there, though, is that the source of calories is equally as important as the number of calories. An average-sized avocado contains around 160 calories, which is slightly more than a bag of crisps (130 calories or so for a 25g bag) – but the former is far more nutritious and more protein-rich.

Why low carb living is more enjoyable and more sustainable

Eating low-carb is about giving your body the right sort of fuel, rather than trying to function on less fuel overall.

A low-carb diet nourishes, satisfies, and energises you as you work towards your weight-wellness goals. You eat until you’re full, and you snack when you need to. There’s no need to fast or prolong the breaks between meals.

What sorts of foods are low carb friendly?

Cutting out carbs and sugar doesn’t mean cutting out taste. There are countless flavoursome foods that are compatible with the low-carb lifestyle – meats, fishes, cheeses, leafy vegetables, pulses, grains, herbs and spices, and plenty more.

Read more about low-carb foods and how they will help you reach and sustain your weight-wellness goals.