Have you been thinking about trying a carbohydrate free diet but are confused about what it really entails?
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect so you can make sure it’s the right diet for you.
What Exactly Is a Carbohydrate Free Diet?
A diet that’s completely devoid of carbs might be difficult to achieve. That’s because carbs tend to hide everywhere, from fruits and vegetables to additives in sauces, soups, and even dairy products.
For a diet to be truly carb-free, you would have to eat only meats, cheese and eggs. This is not only difficult to achieve, but also unhealthy.
When people talk about carbohydrate free diets, they’re usually referring to diets that are very low in carbs, similar to the Atkins Induction Phase, which allows about 20 grams of carbs per day. Of those, 12–15 grams usually come from vegetables.
It’s best to avoid fruits on a very low-carb diet, as they contain fructose, a form of natural sugar (and sugar is a type of carb). For example, a medium apple contains 21 grams of carbs, while an orange contains 16g and a medium pear contains 25g.
What Else Can You Eat On A Carb Free Diet?
Aside from non-starchy vegetables, a very low carb diet can include all types of fish, fowl, shellfish and meats. Eggs and cheese are also acceptable, but other dairy products should be excluded.
Anything you find that is processed or prepared should be labeled as sugar-free. If you’re unsure, always read labels. Many spice mixes or salad dressings contain added sugar.
What Are the Benefits of Eliminating Carbs?
It’s probably no surprise that the most talked-about benefit of eliminating carbs is weight loss. In fact, studies show that people can lose significantly more weight on a carbohydrate free diet than with other types of diets. This is especially true during the first few months that carbs are reduced or eliminated.
In addition, research shows that cutting down your carb intake can also be good for your heart. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, cutting down on carbs and choosing healthy proteins and unsaturated fats can actually reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.
Experts also agree that very low-carb diets can help stabilize your blood sugar. In the case of people with diabetes, this can improve glucose levels so much, that it might be possible to reduce (or completely eliminate) the need for medication.
What About the Drawbacks?
Carbohydrate free diets are not for everybody. For starters, reducing or eliminating grains, fruits and dairy will deprive your body of a number of vital nutrients.
Calcium, B vitamins and vitamins A and C are all essential to protect your heart, promote healthy bones, and provide your body with fiber and antioxidants.
In addition, carbs are an excellent source of energy, but fat and protein are not. If you are physically active, you might find that your levels of energy drop considerably when you eliminate carbs.
Some people also complain of “brain fog” and an overall feeling of moodiness or fatigue when giving up carbs.
These side effects sometimes go away once your body gets used to the low-carb way of eating.
- Atkins: How to Do Induction Right
- DiabetesCare: Carbohydrates in Fruits
- Atkins: What You Can Eat in Phase 1?
- NCBI: Low-carbohydrate-diet score and the risk of coronary heart disease in women
- WebMD: Do Low-Carb Diets Help Diabetes?
- Virginia Tech: The Low-Carbohydrate Craze: Is it a healthy way to lose weight?