The low carb diet

The low-carbohydrate diet is gaining more and more followers; some to lose weight, others because a low carb diet is good for them. Find out what a low-carb diet is, and what its effects are on the body, become a low-carb expert with our analysis of this low-starch diet trend.

“Low carb” or “low in carbohydrates”, what is it?

The term “low carb” means low in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrients necessary for the body, this term can also be understood under the notion of slow sugars. Adopting such a diet means reducing your carbohydrate intake in your diet to better concentrate on protein and lipid intake. This involves favoring low-carbohydrate foods such as fish, meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dairy products and avoiding starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, rice, white bread). and fruits very rich in sugars.

The principle of reducing carbohydrates is the foundation of many different diets: Atkins, Dukan and others, each of its diets with different specifics. In general, nutritionists agree to limit carbohydrate intake to between 50g and 100g per day, a limit that should not be exceeded to effectively lose weight.

Benefits of Low carb diet

Rapid weight loss at first

If opinions differ on the low carb diet, one thing is certain, it allows you to lose weight quickly and effectively – but be wary of the first results mainly due to water loss! Please note: it is essential to drink plenty of water during a low-carb diet in order to eliminate protein residue and ketone bodies from your system. Low carb diets guarantee rapid weight loss from the first weeks, which can be a motivating factor from the start.

Helps you avoid snacking

The low carb diet is very low in carbohydrates, it ensures low blood sugar levels consistently throughout the day. In order to cover energy needs, the body draws on its fat reserves instead of sugar. This significantly reduces insulin spikes and sudden cravings for snacks or sweets. Additionally, the low-carb diet consists of increased protein and fat intake, so you feel full and no longer feel like snacking.

Longer lasting feeling of fullness

The low carb diet is based on a high protein intake, which facilitates weight loss. Protein is the slowest digesting macronutrient. In other words: eating protein fills you up! This allows you to feel a feeling of fullness more quickly than after eating fatty or sugary foods. This is a big advantage of the low carb diet. This way you don’t feel hungry between meals and it avoids a lot of frustration.

fat loss

After a meal containing carbohydrates, glucose reaches the bloodstream which causes an increase in blood sugar. As a result, the pancreas secretes insulin. This hormone gives the body the green light to transport glucose from the blood to the muscles and liver, where it will be stored as glycogen. When glycogen stores are full, the body begins to convert glycogen into fat, since fat stores are infinitely expandable. So if the reserves are not filled, the body will draw its energy from fats leading to a loss of fat mass!

Save calories with protein

It’s not just fat! As part of a low-carb diet, proteins also play an important role. One of the benefits of a low-carb diet is that the body requires more energy to digest protein than to digest carbohydrates or fats. We ultimately consume significantly fewer calories when eating foods rich in protein than what is displayed in the energy values, and the same for protein powder. 18 to 25% of calories from proteins are lost during thermogenesis (the process of accelerating energy metabolism).

Home cooking: you are the chef!

From a more general point of view, the first positive aspect is that the low-carbohydrate diet focuses on the consumption of fresh and unprocessed or minimally processed foods, generally rich in hidden sugars or starches to give consistency and texture. In addition, this diet includes a large quantity of fresh vegetables rich in nutrients, a second positive aspect. While it may seem like a restrictive diet, the low carb diet is on the contrary an opportunity to vary your recipes, innovate and cook with fresh produce!

How many carbohydrates to consume?

You will surely find different recommendations in terms of quantities of carbohydrates to consume per day. The LOGI method advises eating 80 to 130g of carbohydrates per day, while drastic (and unsavory) Hollywood diets recommend a much smaller quantity. At the start of the Atkins method, you will only be allowed 20g of carbohydrates per day for example, which is extremely low. The protein diet recommends consuming 15% protein in your daily diet.

We advise everyone wanting to start a low-carb diet to consume 100g of carbohydrates per day. If this is too difficult, do not hesitate to increase the quantity to 150 g – in theory, it is a question of not exceeding this limit, we could no longer speak of a low carb diet.

Low carb diet: permitted and prohibited foods

Prohibited foods:

✗ Bread

✗ Pastries

✗ Pasta

✗ Rice

✗ Potatoes

✗ Peas, beans (except green), lentils

✗ Fruits rich in fructose

✗ Industrial dishes

✗ Dishes high in sugar

✗ Fruit juices and sodas

Authorized foods:

✓ Vegetables

✓ Fish and meat

✓ Eggs and dairy products

✓ Oils and fats

✓ Nuts and seeds

✓ Fruits low in fructose

✓ Flour alternatives (e.g. almond flour)

✓ Konjac pasta and rice, tofu

✓ Water, coffee and tea (unsweetened)

✓ Drinks containing sugar substitutes

How does the low carb diet work?

Before completely banishing carbohydrates from your diet, you need to be aware of what carbohydrates are: the most important source of energy for the body and brain to function properly. When we consume carbohydrates, the body then has a quick source of energy which can be used during intense sports sessions of bodybuilding, fitness or physical work. Carbohydrates are also very useful for concentration.

Carbohydrates are one of the key elements that keep our bodies functioning well, but that’s also why they’re problematic. The body gets used to using these macronutrients as a source of energy, it almost forgets that another source of energy is at its disposal: fats! 

Lipids are transformed into fats and are an equally important source of energy for metabolism, it is not for nothing that our body is so fond of them! The body can always draw on its fat reserves when subjected to low or medium-intensity activity.

This is why we must accustom our body to drawing on fats, this very available and rarely used source of energy! Eating low carb and considerably reducing carbohydrate intake has this very interesting advantage: the body, instead of relying on sugar, will draw on fats to make energy metabolism work. In order to achieve this result, you just need to start by reducing carbohydrates, there is no point in giving them up completely. So if you practice intense sporting or cerebral activity, your body under strain will be forced to draw on fat reserves rather than glucose.

On the contrary, if you plan an intense activity (a tennis match, a run or an intense weight training session) several hours after your meal, you can make an exception and eat foods rich in carbohydrates. Your body will not only be able to draw on fat, it will therefore also draw on muscle mass, which is of course the opposite effect to that expected if you practice a sporting activity! Likewise, after intense exercise, it is recommended to consume carbohydrates so that your reserves are replenished and allow your body to regenerate.

To remember!

You need to consider carbohydrates as a minor source of energy. You must of course consume enough in order to remain effective during intense physical efforts or for moments of high concentration.

Low carb every day

No carb breakfast

Blood sugar levels drop at night, allowing the body to burn fat upon waking up and in the morning. It is therefore advisable not to eat carbohydrates in the morning and to favor proteins and lipids, for example, an omelet with tomatoes and peppers. The insulin level then remains low.

Low carb at work

Most of the time, when you work in a company, lunch breaks are spent in the canteen, on the go or even in a restaurant. So what do we eat the most? Carbohydrates! In order to eat fewer carbohydrates, the options are rather limited, with the best alternative being to cook your own homemade lunch. A piece of advice if you eat out: ask for low-carb side dishes, prefer vegetables instead of pasta or potatoes, grilled meats or fish.

Is low-carb snacking possible?

There are alternatives to snacks usually saturated with sugar and carbohydrates if you want to snack or are a little hungry between meals, a good alternative would be for example nuts and seeds, they are full of energy thanks to the proteins and good fats they contain. For carnivores, we recommend dried meat such as beef jerky or grizzon meat for a snack, it is ideal and low carb. Also remember to prepare raw vegetables to carry around for snacking throughout the day: cucumber, carrot, celery, and radish. For those with a sweet tooth, protein bars are a good low-carb alternative to classic energy bars and provide lasting satiation.

Eat low carb at restaurants

You will very often find a large number of salads or fish dishes in restaurants, these are the dishes you should turn to! Also always specify the garnish or accompaniment, so you can ask for vegetables if what is offered is rich in carbohydrates: potatoes, pasta, rice or other starchy foods. 

10 rules for a successful low carb diet

To conclude, here are the ten most important rules for a successful low-carb diet at a glance:

  • Cause a calorie deficit of around 500 kilocalories per day.
  • Consume a maximum of 100 grams of carbohydrates per day.
  • Consume 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
  • Prefer vegetable fats.
  • Drink 2 to 3 liters water per day.
  • Get carbohydrates mainly from vegetables and fruits.
  • Practice muscle strengthening and endurance sports and move a lot every day.
  • Increase your carbohydrate intake before and after intense sports.
  • Avoid eating out and mostly cook yourself.
  • Don’t drink alcohol.