In Italy, we tend to call it a high-protein diet, favoring the definition of the macronutrient that prevails in establishing the food plan. Abroad, on the other hand, there is a tendency to underline what the diet must not contain – or must contain in a minimal part – calling it, in fact, 'low carb', ie low in carbohydrates.
In both cases, we can say that we have a general picture of what this should be like diet, no? Low in carbohydrates and high in good protein, with adequate but not excessive fat intake.
Are you curious to know more? Then you have definitely come to the right place. In this article we will explain in detail what the low carb diet consists of, how to follow it, and what its advantages are. Ready? Let's start!
What is low carb diet
The low-carb diet, to begin with, is not a diet but a real diet, aimed at changing our nutritional habits. It can have a slimming effect. In fact, it will certainly tend to change the proportions of your body, with a decrease in fat mass in favor of an increase in lean mass. But that doesn't necessarily mean it will make you lose weight (you'll look thinner, yes.)
In fact, it is a diet that can have a "dietary" effect, that is, it can help you lose weight. But which is also commonly used by sportsmen, therefore by those who do not need to lose weight. This is because, by providing a higher protein intake than traditional diets, it provides adequate sustenance to the muscles, which find the "building blocks" they need to grow in proteins.
Its use in the sports sector tells us a first fundamental thing, namely that it is an absolutely healthy and non-harmful food program.
How does it differ from low-calorie diets
A first difference with the low-calorie diet already emerges from what we have said above. The low-carb diet is not necessarily a diet aimed at weight loss. Basically, in reality, with this diet an average number of calories is introduced, or even higher than that usually recommended, depending on the needs.
This information may seem downright useless to you if you need to lose weight. But, in reality it has a fundamental reflection on those who need to lose weight. What is the first thing we do when we go on a diet? Let's cut calories by reducing portions and inserting "healthy" foods. The average Italian is usually characterized by a sharp change: from Thursday's gnocchi to unseasoned salad.
The effects are usually two. In the short term, there is a more frequent tendency to go astray. This is due to the fact that many think they can follow a dietary regimen on their own. However, they inevitably end up suffering from dizziness, triggering the vicious cycle of low sugar levels followed by the intake of sugary coffee, chocolates and salty crisps (we see you, there in front of the office snack machine).
The second, long-term, is that when the metabolism is forced to find the same energy as always (perhaps even more, since the diet usually goes with the gym), with a reduced calorie intake, it tends to slow down . Hence the yo-yo effect. But there are also consequences such as weakened skin, nails and hair. But also the so-called blockage of the scales, i.e. a period in which, while you continue to suffer, your weight remains stable.
This doesn't happen when you follow a low carb diet. As? We will explain it to you in the next paragraph!
The benefits of the low carb diet
Therefore, with a low-calorie diet we tend to give in to temptations more easily, and to slow down our metabolism. Why doesn't this happen with the low carb diet?
- First of all, because it's not a diet that affects portions. Eat plenty until you feel full. Furthermore, limiting carbohydrates also limits insulin, which is responsible for hunger attacks. So at the same time you also feel full faster and longer;
- The metabolism is kept in constant activity. It never 'slows down', i.e. it does not tend to burn less to conserve energy.
And we come to a fundamental aspect. By introducing a lower intake of carbohydrates (which must not exceed 10% of the total daily calorie intake) the metabolism is oriented towards exploiting fat reserves as a source of energy. This makes the low-carb diet particularly useful for those with lots of fat deposits. In fact, the physique will burn just those. And that's why, even if your intention is not to lose weight, you will find yourself with a changed physique for the better.
Yes, but how to re-educate the metabolism?
Low-carb diet: recommended foods and those to avoid
If you want to retrain your metabolism on a low-carb diet, all you have to do is limit your carbohydrate intake to 10% of your daily calorie intake. Easy to say, but what does this mean in practice?
- Avoid: any type of food that contains flour – even wholemeal ones – and sugars. By way of example: no to fruit yoghurts even if they contain the wording 'skinny' (especially if they contain this wording). No to wholemeal crackers even if they are produced by brands specializing in dietetic foods. No to too sugary fruit and no to starchy vegetables such as pumpkin and potatoes. Also say no to drinks other than water, tea and coffee, even if they are proposed as dietetic.
- You prefer: meat, eggs, dairy products, fish, shellfish, good fats. Don't just introduce more protein and fat, but do it judiciously. Yes to lean, skinless meat (in the case of poultry). Yes to blue fish rich in phosphorus, yes to raw olive oil, red fruits – blackberries and blueberries – and avocado. Say yes to green leafy vegetables too. Fill your body with essential and healthy macronutrients!
The low-carb diet will re-accustom your metabolism to burning fat deposits. This will make you leaner without going hungry and without fatigue. As a result, you will feel energetic. In addition, you will have a healthy appearance and physique, because you will be introducing all the essential macronutrients, with a boost of vitamins and mineral salts.
The only question, at this point, is: what are you waiting for to try it?