Low carbohydrate diets have been around for many years, but they were brought to public awareness through Dr. Atkins and his Atkins Diet, as well as the Zone Diet and most recently the South Beach Diet. While the particulars of the various low carb diets might vary, the basic concept is the same. Train the body to burn fat rather than burn carbohydrates.
Let's take a step back into basic biology. Your body has a lot going on inside it, even if you don't exercise or do much else. Your body needs a lot of energy to keep the blood flowing, the systems working, the brain functioning. We provide our body with the raw supplies to create energy with by eating. Our bodies take that food, convert it into energy, and that's how the body keeps itself going. This is rather simplified, of course :)
Now, the body really only has 2 basic kinds of fuel it can use. Fuels are either carbohydrates (sugars, starches, etc) or they are fats. Just about everything else you eat - including fiber - is passed through your system without having an energy impact.
Normally, with the sugar-rich, pasta-rich, bread-rich, potato-rich diet that the modern world eats, the body is overwhelmed with the carbohydrate type of fuel. So it leaves its fat reserves alone, saving them for "dangerous starvation times". It's that caveman instinct we have built into us. Any morsel of carbohydrates that we eat and do not immediately use gets converted into fat and tucked away for future use. The problem is that we eat so many carbs that the fat layers grow and grow.
Some diets try to compensate by cutting down the calories you eat - i.e. eating tons of carbs, but just eating slightly less. The problem is that your body is still depending on carbs coming in. It primarily burns those carbs. Eat too many, your body just tucks them away for safe use. Eat too few ... here's the thing. Yes, your body has to look around for alternate energy. But switching from carb-burning to fat-burning isn't very easy, so it isn't efficient in how it goes after your fat reserves. Also, because this seems to your body like an "UH oh! Not enough food coming in!" situation, your body starts to switch into a conservation mode. It adjusts itself to account for this new "famine" situation in the world and tries to conserve its precious fat stores as a result. Meaning your body is now fighting your dieting efforts.
In comparison, the low carb diets simply provide your body, naturally, with its other normal energy source. And that is fat. The diet that mankind ate naturally for thousands of years was NOT loaded up with junk food and sugar! It was primarily meat, fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. These things are all naturally low in carbs and high in fats. Olive oil is one of the more healthy things you can eat! So when you go to a low carb diet, your body gets used to eating a diet with fats being the primary source of energy. You eat plenty of food - your body never panics about being in "famine mode". So it doesn't shut down fat burning efforts. If it doesn't see enough fat coming in from one source (your mouth) it easily grabs fat from another source (i.e. your tummy). And since fat becomes its primary source of energy, you don't feel starving during the day or famished at mealtimes - because your body always has a 'fat store' to snack on when it needs it.
Stocking a Low Carb Pantry
Preparing for your Low Carb Diet
The First Two Weeks
|Low Carb First Two Weeks|
by Lisa Shea
If you're getting started in low carb, or know someone who is, this is the book you need. Step by step instructions, background information, plus great recipes!
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Lisa Shea's Library of Low Carb Books