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Low Carb

March 6th, 2018

What exactly is Low Carb?

"Low Carb" stands for "less carbohydrates" and describes a special diet in which you, like the name already told us, eat less carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are an important energy source for our bodies. If we eat in our daily diet carbohydrates, our body breaks them down to glucose. We need glucose as an energy source for our brain, our muscles and our nerves. Whether a sugar is a mono-, di- or oligosaccharide plays an important role, because one can say that the lower a sugar is, the faster and easier our body breaks it down to glucose and uses it as an energy source.

This does not sounds bad at first, but our blood sugar levels rise and fall very fast, which means that we get hungry again very soon. To lower our glucose (sugar) blood levels, the pancreas releases insulin. This creates a lack of glucose, which in turn leads to fatigue, power loss and lack of concentration.

If we eat more high-grated carbohydrates, such as wholemeal products and vegetables, our body needs more time to break the sugars down into a usable form. Therefore, the insulin secretion is kept low or more constant. This gives us a more constant energy supply on one side and on the other side, it leaves us felling full for a longer time.

If we do not eat enough carbohydrates, after some time our body will change its metabolism and use an alternative energy source namely our own fat depots (so-called ketones).

 

What does a Low Carb diet look like?

Now, of course, the question arises how many and which carbohydrates you can or should eat in your daily Low Carb diet.

 

Carbohydrates

There are many different theories regarding low-carbohydrate diets, which makes it difficult to determine how many and which carbohydrates you should eat. Nevertheless, there exist guidelines that you can use for orientation.

  • The reduction of carbohydrates in our daily diet should always be adapted individually, as each person is unique and different in the reactions to these changes. Furthermore, the individual’s needs are connected to his body compostions –weight, metabolism and physical activity!

Various institutions such as the DGE (German nutrition society) published recommendations for our daily (main) nutrient intake. In a balanced diet, the daily intake for carbohydrates should be seen in relation to the energy needs of a person. They should always be the dominant nutrient in our diet.

  • 50% of our daily energy supply should be in form of carbohydrates

Whit a Low Carb diet, the daily intake of carbohydrates should be less than 20% off the daily energy supply.

Basic guidelines:

  • Up to 50g carbohydrates per day: anabolic diet
  • 50-100g carbohydrates per day: strict low-carb-diet
  • Up to 150g carbohydrates per day: moderate low-carb-diet

To choose the right carbohydrates is extremely important in a Low Carb diet. Choose always natural and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Avoid foods with high levels of mono-/disaccharides.

 

Proteins

Proteins like meat, fish, nuts, seeds and legumes play an important role in this diet – they should be the dominant main nutrtition. With an balanced diet we can easily cover the recommended daily intake. No need for special protein shakes or supplements.

 The daily intake of proteins depends on the individual body weight.

For a balanced diet, the following intake is recommended:

  • 30-35% of the daily nourishment should be proteins
  • The DGE recommends a daily intake fo 0.8g per Kg body weight (With a body weight of 70 Kg for example you eat 56g of proteins)
  • The daily maximum is set with 2g of proteins per Kg body weight

However, for a Low Carb diet other guidelines apply. Depending on the diet type you can eat up to 60% of proteins.

 

Fat

Among the main nutrients, fat has the highest energy density per gram (9kcal per g). It is absolutely important to value a balanced nutrition when consuming saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Lean meat, low-fat sausages and cheese, as well as high-quality, cold -pressed vegetable fats and oil with a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (olive, rapeseed oil) should be regularly on your daily menu.

Again, the nutrient distribution depends on the particular Low Carb diet that you have chosen.

  • ketogenic diet: 25-35% of the daily energy supply should be fat
  • moderate low-carb-diet: only 10% of the daily energy supply should be fat

In every diet, a conscious handling with fats is recommended. Fats are highly effective energy sources, but all fats, which are not needed, migrate into our fat deposits and leaves unloved fat pads.

Unsaturated fatty acids, which are especially found in fatty marine fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna, as well as in rapeseed, olive or linseed oil, nuts, avocados have a positive influence on our blood lipid levels. They have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and protect the heart and blood vessels. Saturated fatty acids on the other hand, can lead to high cholesterol levels. They are mainly found in meat, sausages and full-fat dairy products (like butter or cream).

The Low Carb nutrition pyramid shows us which foods should be eaten in which proportions: https://www.lowcarb-ernaehrung.info/ernaehrungspyramide/

 

For whom is a Low Carb suitable?

Basically, Low Carb is for anyone who wants to lose weight in a long term, for those who have food intolerances especially against cereal products (gluten). and for those who suffer from frequent starvation attacks as their blood sugar levels rise and fall.

This diet is not recommended for people with high or elevated blood lipids and/or uric acid levels; for children, pregnant women and people with gouty arthritis, kidney diseases or liver problems is this diet not recommended as well.

If you belong to one of these groups and are still interested in a Low Carb diet, consult a doctor and/or nutritionist first.

However, a Low Carb diet may also be helpful for people with diseases like obesity and diabetes. A diet with low carbohydrates helps to reduce weight and reduces the blood sugar levels. Consult your doctor and/or nutritionist first.

 

What else to consider?

As with any diet, you should pay attention to ensure sufficient physical activity and that you are adequately hydrated. Make sure to drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters of water, herbal or unsweetened fruit teas.

Eat 3 meals a day. It’s recommended for a balanced diet to eat 3-5 small meals. However, for a Low Carb diet this is not recommended. Actually, here you should only eat 3 meals per day. Avoid bars and snacks, as they increase the insulin release. As a result, not all nutrients can be used as an energy source and they are tranformed into fatty pads. Therefore, you should take a 5 hour break between meals in which the blood sugar levels can sink back to normal.