Living Low Carb: How it Works

In spite of all the controversies and disputes around them the low-carb regimens were the most popular diets in the USA at the end of 1990s and at the beginning of 2000s. These regimens were quite ambiguous: many diet gurus were representing their low-carb diet plans and praising their quick and indisputable results whilst medical establishments were arguing about their safety and effectiveness.

The question is still open today but the low-carb diets occupy an important place on the pedestal of dieting world. New theories and explanations appear within the low-carb camp trying to explain the mechanism of their work and to prove that low-carb diets can’t be more harmful than any other existing type of diet.

Fran McCullough in her Loving Low-Carb attempts to generalize the most popular low-carb approaches, to weigh their positive and negative sides and to answer still remaining question: how do the low-carb diets work?

Many nutritional specialists agree that the consumption of much simple refined carbohydrates which overload the daily regimen of modern people leads to overproduction of insulin. An elevated insulin levels in the blood – a condition called hyperinsulinemia – causes obesity and excess weight.

Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas that allows blood sugar to be used by the cells. This hormone is responsible for keeping and storing fat. Insulin is also the reason of raising blood pressure, damaging blood vessels and stimulating of the hunger signals.

Every meal containing carbohydrates (especially sugars and starches) causes substantial insulin production and shuts down ketosis which in turn causes excess energy in the diet to be stored as fat. Consumed sugars and starches require insulin to process them. If the person stays on the high-sugar diet for many years the insulin receptors become resistant and more insulin is required to process the incoming sugars. The insulin-resistant person faces the closed cycle.

To break this cycle it is necessary to restrict high-carbohydrate foods in order to reduce or eliminate the insulin production in the body and to encourage the state of ketosis.

Restriction of carbohydrate intake not only decreases the insulin levels but also increases the levels of glucagon, another hormone that is responsible for fat burning and cholesterol removing. The severe restriction of carbohydrates leads to ketosis – the state of burning fat with the production of ketones which come out together with the urine. As the result of ketosis the blood sugar levels are stabilized and weight is lost because the body is burning fat.

The purpose of low-carb diets is to teach the dieters to consume less carbohydrates or even to eliminate them from the ration altogether. But at the same time we shouldn’t forget that there are so called “good” and “bad” or simple and complex carbs.

Complex carbs contain many nutrients and have a moderate glycemic index. According to the majority of health advisors they can be present in the daily menus in moderate quantities. While simple carbs, for example, white bread, potatoes, bananas, cakes, cookies and all sugary products should be strictly limited because of their low nutrient value and high glycemic index.

Fran McCullough is an advocate of more liberal low-carb diets allowing the consumption of up to 30% of carbs. People can’t eliminate all carbs from their rations altogether since they contain valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Living Low-Carb by Fran McCullough is not a comprehensive low-carb diet but it is a priceless tool helping to understand and not to get lost in the complicated low-carb and high-carb world.


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