Low-Carb Diets – The Pros and Cons
By Jessica Wassenberg
You would have heard a lot about low-carb diets – they’ve become hugely popular over the last few years. So much so that many food companies now offer low-carb alternatives in the supermarket, and fast-food chains like McDonalds and Subway offer low-carb alternatives.
The idea behind a low-carb diet is to change your body chemistry. By restricting your carbohydrate intake, your body is forced to turn to your fat stores for energy. This induces a state called ketosis, so called because the breakdown of fat releases molecules called ketones into your bloodstream, which you then excrete in your urine. In fact, if you're really serious about it, you can buy pH strips to measure the amount of ketones present in your urine!
However, restricting carbohydrate intake for any length of time has some risks, and should only be done under the supervision of a health care professional. A low-carb diet should not be seen as a long-term diet - it is too restricted in calories and nutrients to be healthy in the long term. Not to mention that you miss out on vital food types like grains, pasta, and breads.
Also to be considered is the effect that low-carb diets have on your muscles. What happens is this: when your body needs energy, it first turns to the stores of glycogen (made from the glucose - carbohydrate - that you eat) in the liver. After a few hours, this runs out, and the body turns to the glycogen stored in your muscles. Now, muscle glycogen is heavy, because one molecule of glycogen is stored with three molecules of water. So, when your body burns up the glycogen, the water is excreted. This is what causes the big drop in weight that you may experience during the beginning of a low-carb diet - most of what you are losing is muscle and water, not fat!
Now, if you like to work out regularly, you'll face a big problem on a low-carb diet. You will quickly find that you run out of energy and can't exercise. That is because your muscles haven't been able to replenish their store of glycogen, because you haven't eaten enough carbs for them to do so! Therefore, low-carb diets aren't a good choice for athletes and active people, though if you're pretty sedentary they can be okay for a short time.
I know a few people who have lost quite a bit of weight on a low-carb diet - with a few side effects. One woman of about 50 did really well, but found that after a few weeks she needed to increase her intake of carbs because she was getting the shakes from low blood sugar. A man, around his mid-fifties, also lost a good deal of weight, but after two months his energy levels were extremely low, and his low-carb diet combined with a low iron level left him feeling pretty wiped out!
Despite their risks, low-carb diets can be a really useful way to kick-start your weight loss – and some diabetics have found that low-carb diets can be a great way to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Just make sure you get good guidance from a book or health care professional before you start eating low-carb!
Jessica runs the HealthyFitGirl website at http://www.healthyfitgirl.com. HealthyFitGirl contains a wealth of health and fitness information and tools to help you get fit and stay healthy. It is also a place where people can gather to share their health and fitness stories, questions, progress, and experiences.
Jessica also runs Epheriell Designs – http://www.epherielldesigns.com – the home of fun, funky, and thought-provoking clothing and gifts.
(C) Jessica Wassenberg 2005 all rights reserved.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/