Super Low Carb Diet

Diets that recommend fewer than 70 g of carbohydrates per day are low-carbohydrate diets. If a diet recommends fewer than 20 g per day of carbohydrates, then it is a very-low-carb diet. Some dieters even elect to eat diets that contain no carbs. A belief exists among dieters that the fewer carbs you eat on a low-carbohydrate diet, the more weight you will lose. This isn’t necessarily true.

Background

In the low-carb diet book “Protein Power Lifeplan,” Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades explain that low-carb diets may be the way that you are evolutionarily programmed to eat. As evidence, they point to early hunter-gatherer societies that existed primarily on what they could hunt or forage. This was most likely meat and seasonally available plant foods. Grain agriculture is a relatively recent innovation in terms of human history, and it is very likely that human beings haven’t evolved to eat cultivated grains, sugar and processed foods.

Identification

Carbs contain sugars. When you eat them, they impact your blood glucose by causing it to rise. Fiber is also included in carb counts, although it has no effect on your blood glucose levels. Many low-carb diet plans allow you to subtract fiber from carb counts so that you use only the effective carbs in your carb counting. Whole grains, cereals, baked goods, sugar, syrup, dairy products, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit and vegetables all contain carbohydrates. Many of these foods are restricted on low-carb diet plans, and most are restricted on super-low-carb diets.

Theories/Speculation

In the book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Gary Taubes explains the theory behind why low-carb diets work for weight loss. According to Taubes, insulin control is the key. When dietary intake of carbs causes blood glucose levels to rise, your pancreas releases the fat storage hormone insulin. Along with controlling blood glucose levels, insulin also stores the food you eat as fat and keeps your fat cells from releasing stored body fat for use as fuel. When you control insulin by limiting carb intake, your body begins to use stored fat as its primary source of fuel.

Recommendations

Of all of the popular low-carb diets, Atkins has the highest level of carb restriction, particularly in the diet’s early stages. Atkins recommends eating 20 g of carbs or fewer per day during the first two weeks of the diet. Atkins also recommends greater levels of carb restriction if you encounter a diet plateau, claiming that eating close to zero carbs per day can help you move beyond the plateau. Other diets have less-severe restrictions of carbs. For instance, Protein Power suggests eating between 7 and 10 g of carbohydrates per meal in the diet’s early stages, while the Zone recommends eating 30 percent of your calories from carbs. No expert-designed diets suggest eating fewer than 20 g of carbs per day for a sustained period of time, although you can find such recommendations from non-experts such as dieters themselves.

Research

No research exists showing that eating daily carb levels of less than 20 g will increase weight loss. Researchers have studied Atkins-style diets, however, and concluded that the diets are effective ways to lose weight. The most recent study was a 2010 Temple University study printed in “Annals of Internal Medicine,” which compared dieters on low-carb diets to those on low-fat diets for a period of two years. The study found both types of diets equally effective. A 2007 Stanford University study published in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” compared Atkins, Zone, Ornish and LEARN Diets and concluded that Atkins was the most effective at generating weight loss. In general, Atkins diet allows fewer carbohydrates than Zone.

Considerations

The belief that eating fewer carbs than recommended on the lowest carb diet will result in greater weight loss may come from a similar line of thinking in low-calorie diets that the fewer calories you eat, the more weight you will lose. Low-carb diets work differently than reduced-calorie diets to produce weight loss. Carb restriction causes decreased insulin that results in fat burning, while calorie restriction works based on a simple equation of eating fewer calories than you burn. For best results, find a specific plan that you feel you can stick with and follow it. It’s always best to check with a doctor before embarking on a weight loss program.