Every celebrity from Kim Kardashian to any supermodel seems to be adopting a low carb lifestyle. So what are the benefits and does it really work?
What is a low carb diet?
According to author of Smart Carbs and wellness expert Luke Hines, the low carb movement isn't anything new as such, more so that it is gaining popularity in recent times due to its incredible health benefits.
“People adopting a low carb way of life are experiencing a reduction in stored body fat, including more energy, improved mood, better hormonal balance, and a general improvement in happiness and health,” he says.
“These results come with ease, all whilst enjoying delicious healthy food. For a number of decades there was a low fat/ no fat movement, and due to this, most of the food people were consuming were processed, refined and with added sugars for flavour.
“Science has well and truly proven that fat is indeed our friend, and consuming healthy fats doesn’t actually make us fat. Eating too many processed, refined, sugary and high carb foods can if we are not managing our blood sugar and activity levels. People are turning towards a low carb approach to release weight, increase energy and feel great,” Luke concludes.
Are there Different Types of Low Carb Diets?
Yes, there is says Luke. “I often describe to people there are two main areas to think about when approaching a low carb diet. There is a generalized LCHF approach (Low Carb Healthy fat). This LCHF approach see’s us looking to keep our daily carb intake to under 100 grams of carbs. The other zone I often refer to is the Keto Zone, this is a stricter approach to going low carb and for us to be keto we are needing to consume less than 50 grams of carbs per day,” he says.
“I would never suggest a NO-Carb diet, as even food suitable for Keto and LCHF both contain small amounts of healthy carbs. In my book Smart Carbs, I break the recipes down for people ranging from those suitable for a Paleo approach which doesn’t count carbs, to a LCHF zone and then a stricter Keto approach.
How does a low carb diet work?
According to Luke a low carb diet is when we reduce processed, refined and high carbohydrate foods, and replace them with nutrient dense well sourced proteins, healthy fats, an abundance of above ground non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds and low fructose fruit. The main thing we are looking to do is manage our blood sugar levels and celebrate foods that keep us feeling fuller for longer.
Put simply, according to Luke when we reduce carbs as our main source of energy, we replace them with good healthy forms of fat such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and so on. Therefore, instead of our bodies mainly being sugar burners, we become fat burners.
Studies have shown that using fat and protein as our preferred fuel source helps us burn more body fat, reduce cravings, improve our brain health and feel great. When we no longer supply our body with glucose, we convert the fat we eat into Ketones, and we use that as a readily used source of energy.
Does a low carb diet work for weight loss?
It certainly does says Luke!
“Many of my clients have lost from 10kg to 30kg simply by switching form a sugar burner to a fat burner! They didn’t change anything else but the food they were eating and the weight dripped off. I will say though, although fat loss is a bonus, the improved mood, cognitive function and wellbeing people experience is what I really get excited about!”
Is a low carb diet safe?
Absolutely says Luke! “Although like with any change in diet or lifestyle, you should always consult your healthy health professional to see if it right for you,” he advises.
What are the Health Benefits of a low carb diet?
“I think the major stand out for me is that you are no longer a slave to food, you are in the drivers seat,” says Luke.
“You no longer eat based off cravings or mood, you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re fuel, and are empowered enough to know what really nourishes you.”
What are the dangers of a low carb diet?
According to Luke some people experience what can be referred to as the Keto Flu when they initially transition from a sugar burner to a fat burner. These minor flu like symptoms that some experience is simply your body adjusting.
“I found the transition seamless, and recommend people to just take their time and listen to their body. Self care such as rest, quality nourishment and good sleep, all lead you towards transitioning to this way of life with ease,” he says.
Low carb food:
Well sourced animal proteins
Good quality coconut and extra virgin olive oil
Raspberries and blueberries
Sample Meal Plan
Low carb breakfast: Zucchini Pizza with Bacon and Eggs
Low carb lunch: NYC Burger Bowl
Low carb dinner: Chicken Tikka Tandoori
Low carb dessert: Keto Chocolate Crackles
What can't you eat on a low carb diet?
It’s recommended when following the Low Carb lifestyle to reduce processed and refined carbohydrates and food with added sugars. The key is keeping it simple and focusing on cooking with real food from scratch.
High carb foods:
Can you drink alcohol when on a low carb diet?
“I personally don’t think alcohol is conducive to living your best life as it is what is known as empty calories, with very little nutritional benefit, and is a depressive, meaning it is a downer to mood and well-being,” says Luke.
That said, if you want to have a drink, keep it clean and natural with tequila, from a cactus, low in sugar and calories and as real as it comes. Serve it up on ice or with fresh soda water and fresh lime.
Smart Carbs by Luke Hines available in stores and online now published with Plum Books.