Low-Carb: A New Era of Dieting

Both Slim Fast and Jenny Craig have topped the list of the most popular diets for a countless number of years. Through careful planning and numerous tests, they were proven that if followed correctly, the unwanted pounds would shed away finally allowing someone to reach their desired weight and also maintain it.

Although these diets along with others are still quite popular and has a great amount number of followers, a new diet is emerging on the scene that also proves to be just as effective and produce longer lasting results. This phenomenon, more commonly known as the low-carb diet, has conquered the kitchen of many households by enabling millions to convert their eating habits; therefore, allowing them to lead more energetic and healthier lives.

But, do these so-called low-carb diets actually work or do they just leave you hungry for more?

Nothing sounds better than a nice quiet evening alone or with a loved one and enjoying a nice dinner. An enjoyable home-cooked soul food meal that consists of a juicy piece of fried chicken, smooth mashed potatoes drizzled in gravy, tender greens (and a piece of fatback for flavor), steamy corn-on-the-cob and fresh homemade buttermilk biscuits. Sounds delicious? Maybe so, but this meal is loaded with carbohydrates.

A carbohydrate (or carb) is a large group of sugars, starches, celluloses and gums that contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in similar amounts found in different foods. (Yahoo Health) Carbs are used to provide energy for the body, particularly the brain and the nervous system. When carbohydrates are consumed, the body breaks them down into a sugar type substance called glucose. Glucose can be used as a fuel for the body. If the human body lacks a sufficient number of carbohydrates, it will leave a person feeling tired and weak. But if too many carbohydrates are consumed, especially at one given time, they will act against the body, causing a tremendous increase in glucose, which would then cause obesity.

Generally, most low-carb dieters, such as the Atkins followers will consume an average of 15- 60 grams of carbohydrates daily. The Atkins diet has been the leading low-carb diet across the country and its popularity is steadily increasing. Dr. Robert Atkins, the creator of the Atkins diet states that losing weight can be done easily by eating foods high in protein and fat and limiting your carbohydrate intake. This means eliminating foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta, rolls and desserts. When people take trips to the grocery store now, they may notice that some of their favorite foods are being released with a low-carb version. Consumers will still be able to enjoy the foods that they love and best of all, most of them are Atkins- approved.
The Atkins diet is divided into four different but essential phases: Induction phase; Ongoing weight loss; Pre-maintenance and Lifetime Maintenance.

During the two-week Induction phase, one will be switching his or her metabolism into one that primarily burns fat for energy. The diet follower is encouraged to eat proteins and fats and carbohydrates are limited to 20 grams per day. The rate of weight loss is purposely slowed down while in phase two, the Ongoing Weight Loss (OWL). The OWL phase lasts until the dieter is five to ten pounds away from their goal weight. They are also allowed to increase carbohydrates by five grams per week. The Pre-maintenance phase allows the person to adapt better eating habits. The dieter is allowed to add new foods to their meals and increase the carbohydrate intake by ten grams per week as long as they are still continuing to lose weight. The final and most important phase is the Lifetime Maintenance and is exactly what it sounds like. He or she is expected to live a healthier life and still continue to stay within the same weight range for a lifetime.

But, a new low-carb diet has hit the streets now and has made a loud noise. The South Beach Diet created by cardiologist, Arthur Agatson, MD, originally created this diet plan for his patients with heart disease. Once others heard of the “miracle diet” from his patients, people immediately ran to his office for a copy of his diet. Unlike the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet is a little more lenient.

The South Beach Diet recommends normal portions of lean proteins such as fish and chicken; unlimited amount of low- glycemic- index vegetables (broccoli, spinach, carrots, etc); ample amount of olive and canola oils, nuts and small portions of healthy carbs, commonly found in fruits and less-processed grains.

The South Beach Diet is divided into three phases, the first being the hardest but only lasts two weeks much like the Atkins diet. One is allowed to eat lean proteins, fat-free or low-fat cheese, eggs, legumes, healthy oils and low-glycemic index vegetables. During phase one, a person can expect to lose between eight to thirteen pounds. Fruits, low-fat milk, whole grain bread, rice and pasta are welcomed back during phase two, which lasts until the desired weight is no longer a fantasy but a reality. Finally, phase three is just being able to maintain the weight.

Despite the fact that low-carb diets seem to be a quick and easy way to lose weight, both the Atkins diet and the South Beach Diet emphasize the importance of exercising. Yes, physical activity but it is not as hard as it seems. Both recommend walking for approximately twenty minutes is the best option. If walking to lose weight seems tedious, joining a fitness center will be an excellent opportunity to get fit and invest money into something that will soon prove to be beneficial. Also doing work around the house counts as exercise, especially if there is a lot of work to be done. Adding fast- paced music to whatever physical activity that one will be doing can, too be helpful. Music can make time pass by much faster and dancing along with the tunes can aid in burning extra calories. Participating in sports, gardening, or any other outdoor activities will also allow the pounds to escape your body.

Like most other things, the low-carb diet is not for everyone. If you decide to attempt to follow any low-carb diet or any other type of diet, research and make sure it is the right one fore you. Each physician has books out on each diet so feel free to pick up one. But, before all else, please consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise regimen. There would be no point in thinking you look fabulous and thinner if you are lying in a hospital bed.

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