Ketogenic Diets – Low carb diets, what are they and how do they work?

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Low carbohydrate diets have been found very effective in helping people to lose weight. Low carb diets focus on avoiding foods such as breads, pasta, and sugar and replacing them with other foods that are low in carbohydrates like proteins and vegetables.

Low carbohydrate diets work by depriving your body of carbohydrates that they are accustomed to using for energy and forcing the body to instead use fat to fuel the body. When carbohydrates are consumed your body converts the carbohydrates into glucose. The glucose is then used to give your body energy. With limited carbohydrates in your diet the liver converts fat into fatty acids brand and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies then move through the body supplying energy in the place of glucose. This process is known as ketosis.

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The most commonly known low carbohydrate diet is probably the Atkins diet which focuses on foods that are low in carbohydrates. The first stage of the Atkins diet is known as the induction phase and the goal is to cause ketosis. During the induction phase of the Atkins diet you may only consume 20 grams of net carbs per day and 12 to 15 grams of those net carbs must come from the fifty four vegetables on the approved list. Some of the approved vegetables on the Atkins (and other low carb diets) include spinach, cauliflower, turnips, tomatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, and asparagus. During the induction phase you can lose as much as five to ten pounds per week, and the induction phase generally lasts for two weeks, but can be repeated as necessary.

After the induction phase, you move on to the ongoing weight loss phase, commonly referred to as the OWL phase. During this phase dieters add 5 grams of carbohydrates to their diet per week. In the induction phase you eat 20 grams of carbohydrates per day so during your first week of OWL you eat 25 grams of carbohydrates per day. During the second week of OWL you add five more grams of carbohydrates for a total of 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. You continue to add 5 grams of carbohydrates per week until you begin to gain weight. Whatever the amount of carbohydrates you were eating before you began to gain weight is your carbohydrate level for losing weight.

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The OWL phase of the Atkins diet has been described as a ladder with nine rungs. Each rung is a different type of food or drink that you can add as you progress each week. The nine rungs on the ladder are increasing a serving of acceptable vegetables (from induction), cheese, nuts and seeds, berries, alcohol, legumes, other fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains. When you are ten pounds away from your weight loss goal you can move into the lifetime maintenance phase. The lifetime maintenance phase is just a continuation of the healthy eating habits learned in the previous phases.

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Ketogenic diets are often prescribed by physicians for patients who have epilepsy or other seizure disorders. The ketogenic diet was specifically designed for pediatric patients with seizures and the ratios of fats are about four times the amount of proteins or carbohydrates that are consumed. Patients who use the ketogenic diet under the supervision of a physician can see their number of seizures reduced by at least half.

Pros of the low carbohydrate diet include rapid weight loss, lower blood glucose, lower cholesterol, the ability to eat previously forbidden foods, and its popularity. Low carbohydrate diets lead to rapid weight loss which is very appealing for those who want or need quick results. The majority of dieter’s who use a low carbohydrate diet have lower blood glucose levels, and this is why low carbohydrate diets are common among diabetics. Low carbohydrate diets also result in lower cholesterol levels. People on low carbohydrate diets are often pleased that they can eat previously forbidden foods, namely fats. When you take away the carbohydrates you can add fats to your diet like full fat cheese, salad dressings, and cream. Your body will use these fats for fuel in place of carbohydrates and you continue to lose weight. Low carbohydrate diets have grown increasingly popular, and that means that there is a lot of support available for dieters who are trying to follow them. There are forums, blogs, recipe sites, and lots of books that can be used in conjunction with a low carbohydrate diet.

There of course a few cons of a low carbohydrate diet as well. They include constipation, carbohydrate counting, food monotony, defending the diet, and getting enough nutrients. Particularly when first starting a low carbohydrate diet constipation can be a problem. This can be due to a lack of fiber and can be resolved with an adequate daily intake of water and a fiber supplement. For a low carbohydrate diet to work you have to be very aware of what you are eating and how many carbohydrates it contains. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available for you to use that tell you what the net carb count of most foods is. Some people find the low carbohydrate diet to be monotonous after a while, but this can be easily remedied by a search for new low carbohydrate recipes. Because low carbohydrate diets are so popular there are a lot of people who have misconceptions about how they work, for this reason some people feel the need to defend their diet choice. One final con of a low carbohydrate diet is that it can be hard to get all of the vitamins and minerals that you need while following it. This can be easily remedied by taking a multi-vitamin each day.

Low carbohydrate diets can be an excellent way to lose weight, especially for those who also need to focus on keeping their blood sugar low and lowering their cholesterol. No diet is perfect for everyone though, and as with any diet or exercise program you should consult

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