The low-carb diet is spreading further and a lot of people have discovered low-carb for themselves. A lot of women and men with a few extra kilos have already lost a lot of pounds through a low-carb diet and kept being enthusiastic about this kind of nutrition.
Not only the professional athletes among bodybuilders, but also amateurs have always used special diets on a low-carb basis to bring their bodies into top forms for competitions.
Therefore, the low-carb diet is versatile and enjoys an increase in popularity. The principle of low-carb is actually nothing new. Already in the 1860s the Banting Treatment, a pure meat diet, became a fashion phenomenon. The Banting Treatment is therefore one of the forerunners of low-carbohydrate diets.
The French gourmet pope Jean Brillat-Savarin also took a closer look at carbohydrates as a cause for increased body weight. A lot of people are particularly aware of Atkins and his carbohydrate-reduced diet, which he published in the 1970s as a dietary book.
Although the low-carb idea, as we see it, already existed for quite a long time, there is still a lot of misinformation or missing information about low-carb. All kinds of myths are also connected with this kind of nutrition, and they are spreading stubbornly. So, that you don’t go on with the wrong kind of information about low-carb, we will explain in detail what a low-carbohydrate diet really means.
With this information, you can select the best low-carb type for you without worrying about other people’s influences.
Low-Carb? – This Concept Is Not Clearly Defined
Low-carb means low-carbohydrates or few-carbohydrates. In principle that’s all. It is nowhere set how small the carbohydrate intake must be or what amount of carbohydrates is considered as „low”.
However, the idea of the low-carb diet is the basis of some dietary forms in which the inventors set much clearer rules and articulated limits for their particular diet than in the general low-carb diet alone.
In order to better illustrate the differences, the following is a description of the pure low-carb diet and examples of known carbohydrate-reduced diets:
This diet simply reduces carbohydrate intake and ingests more fat and protein instead. How much the carbohydrates should actually be restricted is not fixed. In this case, low-carb can be understood as a generic term, which says nothing more than reduced carbohydrates.
In this diet, you can only consume a very small amount of carbohydrates at the beginning. There are different phases in which different amounts of carbohydrates are regulated.
With this diet, you also eat less carbohydrates. The focus here is on the nature of the food. The individual foods are evaluated according to their glycemic load (GL). The lower the GL, the better. Food with higher GL should be avoided within the Logi-method.
In this kind of diet, you should avoid carbohydrates and eat protein rich food. In addition, the intake of fat is limited. Concededly, the Dukan-diet allows only 72 protein-rich foods as well as 28 vegetable varieties.
LCHF (Low Carb High Fat)
In the LCHF-diet, carbohydrates are reduced to a minimum. Here you should consume a maximum of 50 g of carbohydrates per day. The intake of natural fat, on the other hand, is increased. Your protein intake should remain unchanged.
The Ketogenic Diet allows only a minimal intake of carbohydrates and an individual maximum of protein. Main energy source is fat, so the Ketogenic Diet appears quite similar to the LCHF-Diet at first glance. The primary difference is that the Ketogenic Diet is used as a therapy method, especially in children with a drug-resistant type of epilepsy, glucose transporter disorder and pyruvate hydrogenase deficiency. The ratio of the 3 macronutrients carbohydrates, protein and fat is calculated individually for this purpose.
There are many other more or less known low-carb diets, such as:
To describe all these special low-carb diets would be way too much for the limits of this article.
Low-Carb – Nutrition Philosophy or Just Simple Diet?
The long list above of various low-carb diets shows that the low-carb diet is particularly popular as a reduction diet. The term low-carb is also generally understood as a reduction diet. Not only people with the desire to lose weight, but also bodybuilders reduced their body fat percentages through low-carb successfully.
However, the low-carb diet can do more than just help to lose weight. The Ketogenic Diet as a therapeutic method has already been mentioned. A low-carb diet can also help with metabolic disorders. In addition, a low-carbohydrate diet should support cancer therapy and even starve cancer cells properly. Although the therapy with a low-carb diet is often controversial in terms of cancer but therapy approaches in this direction are explored for alternative medicine.
The Low-Carb Idea
The basis of the low-carb diet is, as we have learned, the reduced intake of carbohydrates. Let’s have a look at why this makes sense. A first glance based on the majority of the population:
Sugar consumption in Germany in 2013 averaged 32.1 kg per citizen. This is about 88 g of pure sugar per day for each citizen.
Added to this is the consumption of wheat flour, which was 69.4 kg in 2013. This is 190 g per day for each citizen. Wheat flour has 72 g of carbohydrates per 100 g. This means that we have around 137 g of starch for the daily consumption of 190 g flour.
If we also add the consumption of confectionery in 2013, which was at around 32.6 kg per citizen, which is about 89 g daily, then we are already on a lot of cumulated fast carbohydrates.
Taken into account the possible overlapping and inaccurate estimations of the statistics, then the average German consumes about 250 – 300 g of fast carbohydrates per day. Remember the consumption of other flours, for example, rye flour and wheat starch in the form of pasta? Then the carbohydrates increase correspondingly too. In addition, more fast carbohydrates are still contained in a lot of other foodstuffs.
If we take all this into account and calculate as approximate as possible, then a daily quantity of 350 g of carbohydrates and more per citizen is quite likely.
Why Should I Reduce The Carbohydrates?
To answer this question, we should know how carbohydrates affect our body. Carbohydrates serve the cells of our bodies as an energy supplier. The hormone insulin transports simple sugars into our body cells. If you eat lots of carbohydrates in the form of sugar, then the generation of the hormone insulin is correspondingly increased and released into your bloodstream to regulate the blood glucose level. A lot of sugar and the resulting insulin release sends your blood sugar level into a roller coaster ride. The disadvantage of these strong fluctuations is that, after a meal, you quickly feel hungry again.
If not enough carbohydrates are ingested, the metabolism changes. The liver produces an increased amount of its own energy carriers from the fat reserves, the ketones, which can now be utilized in the body cells. As a result, your body is forced to gradually degrade its fat reserves – the desired effect occurs and the fat deposits are decreasing.
Another advantage of the low-carb diet is that the higher shares of protein and fat in your meals confers a longer lasting saturation feeling. Protein and fat saturate faster and longer than sugar and short-chain carbohydrates.
When Is Low-Carb Defined As Low-Carb?
The statement „This is not low-carb” is quite common in social networks when it comes to discussing the quantities of carbohydrates in a low-carb recipe. However, we come back to the question, what low-carb actually is, or how much carbohydrates are acceptable in a low-carb recipe to still be considered as low-carb?
As we have already seen above, the term low-carb isn’t accurately defined. Neither are there any irrefutable rules, nor are there any limits set. Low-carb simply means little carbohydrates. Even the concept of little can always be viewed only in relation, for little is not an absolute concept like true or false.
Where does low-carb start? Quite precisely, a recipe is already low-carb as soon as you reduce the carbohydrates at any point. The recipe then has fewer carbohydrates than the original recipe, therefore it can already be considered as low-carb. We remember: The quantity of the reduction isn’t defined.
In other words, the statement „that is not low-carb” is in the best case an expression of opinion. However, it can never be regarded as a fact.
Low-Carb Myth – 10/100 Rule
The 10/100 rule is a low-carb myth which stubbornly remains in social networks and is spread out in an inflationary way.
What Does The 10/100 Rule Mean?
10/100 means that each individual ingredient used for a low carb recipe must never contain more than 10 g of carbohydrates per 100 g.
This rule is based on the fact that these ingredients have a strong influence on the blood glucose and insulin levels.
Why Is This Reasoning Absolute Nonsense?
- The increase in blood glucose and insulin levels is also dependent on the type of carbohydrate. Sugar can be converted very quickly by the body. Long-chain carbohydrates, on the other hand, must first be split by the digestive system into simple sugars, which makes them much slower and only gradually available as an energy carrier. Therefore, complex carbohydrates cause a slow increase in blood glucose and insulin levels in comparison to sugar.
- The increase in blood glucose and insulin levels is not dependent solely on the type and amount of carbohydrates in a diet. All other components in a diet have an effect on how quickly the sugar can enter the bloodstream. The more protein, fat and dietary fiber in your food, the less your digestion can concentrate on the carbohydrates. In the end, all the food needs to be processed by the body but the other nutrients slow the conversion of sugar.
In addition, the ingredients which, based on the 10/100 rule, are called “not low-carb” are usually not even particularly sugary. On the contrary, the outlawed ingredients often have complex carbohydrates which, as we know, do not allow the blood glucose and insulin levels to go on a roller-coaster ride.
Are There Still Ingredients That You Should Avoid With Low-Carb?
Yes, there are at least two ingredients (and consequently their products) which you should avoid in a low-carb diet. These ingredients and products obviously have a high concentration of fast carbohydrates or consist predominantly of sugar.
- Sugar in all its forms (household sugar, powdered sugar, brown sugar, rock sugar, etc.)
- White flour and white flour products (light buns, white bread, noodles, etc.)
There are other foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates, such as potatoes. However, we keep the list of prohibited ingredients here intentionally small. In a well thought out, moderate and varied low-carb diet a potato or some rice can fit quite nicely sometimes.
To list all possible ingredients and to discuss all the possibilities in which way you can use them would exceed the limits of this article.
Where Does The 10/100 Rule Come From?
Well, nobody really knows as the “inventor” wasn’t found so far. Presumably somebody has defined this value as a limit for himself and told his friends about it. And suddenly his rule became independent and spread itself throughout the networks. This rule has been communicated so often since then that, unfortunately, many people perceive this rule as a fact and do not question it any further.
Does The 10/100 Rule Still Has Advantages?
The 10/100 rule can still have a small advantage since it can help absolute low-carb beginners, at the very start, to choose the right ingredients for their recipes. It can also grand some security. The emphasis here is expressly on “at the very beginning”. I know people like rules, especially beginners. Nevertheless, you should abandon the 10/100 rule as quickly as possible and focus on the entire low-carb ingredients.
What Is The Main Disadvantage Of The 10/100 Rule?
The main disadvantage of this rule is that you are forced to ban a great number of really good ingredients from your diet. This will make your diet more monotonous and boring. Maybe you can’t cook your favorite recipes anymore, simply because you can’t use an important ingredient. This increases the frustration factor and leads to an abandonment of the diet. A lot of people do not keep an artificially restricted low-carb diet for long.
Conclusion of the 10/100 rule: You should not hold onto this rule. Rate the ingredients of your low-carb recipes by some better criteria than just the bare carbohydrate content. Important is your carbohydrate intake over the whole day and not just calculated on the individual ingredients.
Which Daily Carbohydrate Intake Is Still Low-Carb?
“You can only eat 30 g of carbohydrates or you don’t eat low-carb anymore!” – even this statement often made by amateurs is just wrong and confusing. Some say an amount of 50 g is okay, others advice a different amount of carbohydrates per day. However, it does not matter which amount is advertised, it is crucial that a general statement of the daily carbohydrate intake has no meaning.
Why not? Simply because people are different. They have different body sizes, weigh, individual exercise habits and not every metabolism is like the other. Above all, people have different goals.
A small example: A 1.90 m bodybuilder weighing more than 100 kg can easily consume up to 5000 Kcal a day. In order to lower his body fat proportion in the short term, he reduces the kcal by about 500 and sets his carbohydrate intake to 100 g per day. This limit of 100 g of carbohydrate is completely sufficient for him and he reaches his goal as planned.
On the other hand, a woman of 1.55 m and 65 kg, who want to lose two to three kilograms with the help of a low-carb diet, will probably not lose her fat with 100 g of carbohydrates per day. This woman must approach a smaller amount of carbohydrates to achieve maximum success. This amount could be between approx. 30 g and 50 g.
Note that two people with nearly the same body stature and weight can react differently to the same amount of carbohydrates. Too many individual factors play a role and everyone should ultimately find out for themselves which amount of carbohydrates is best.
There Is Only One Low-Carb Diet Rule
No matter what reduction diet you are doing to get rid of your superfluous pounds, all these reduction diets have one common rule. This rule is always and everywhere true, whether for a low-carb diet or one of the countless other diets, regardless of what is promised.
Principally it does not matter from which nutrients the calories are supplied, only the calorie deficit is important. Attention! I am writing “in principle”. The statement is simplified, since it would otherwise double the article. There are several factors that need to be taken into account for a healthy decrease.
Low-carb Is (Not) a Hype And Also Not The Holy Grail
Meanwhile, there are many advocates of the low-carb diet, especially in the social networks, which are way too far beyond the goals. These enthusiastic people view the low-carb diet as the ultimate method, as the Holy Grail of diets. There is nothing wrong with their enthusiasm, but unfortunately that leads to a very rigid view. They allow no other opinions of low-carb, just their own.
However, as we have seen, low-carb is very versatile and it exists not only one valid low-carb diet. Low-Carb offers so many possibilities – from very strict to moderate and varied.