Nowadays there is more and more talk about a low carbohydrate diet. Some people swear by it, while others do their best to avoid all low-carb recipes. Yet there are plenty of people who do not know exactly what the low-carbohydrate diet entails. If you want to start with a low-carbohydrate diet, it is important to know how it actually works and what it is exactly.
That is why we have written this article with several frequently asked questions with the corresponding answers about this diet. After reading this article, you will be fully aware of the low-carbohydrate diet and you can decide for yourself whether it is something for you.
What is a low carbohydrate diet?
In addition, sugar causes significant peaks and troughs in your blood sugar level, so that you can sometimes feel very tired and listless after eating a sugary snack.
A low-carb diet tries to prevent this by changing your energy source. When you eat fewer carbohydrates, your body switches to fat as an energy source. In this way, your fat stores are burned, so that you lose weight. Also, your blood sugar level remains more stable, because you get few carbohydrates and sugars.
A person eats an average of 225 grams of carbohydrates per day. With a low-carbohydrate diet, this amount is between 50 and 130 grams. This depends on the level of difficulty at which they do this.
Understanding a low-carbohydrate diet: 8 questions answered
In the first part of this article, you were able to read what a low-carbohydrate diet is. This information can be seen as the basis of applying this diet. That does not alter the fact that there is more interesting information about this diet available. To give you more insight into a low-carbohydrate diet, we will answer 8 common questions about this diet below.
1. Is a keto diet the same as a low-carb diet?
Keto is part of a low-carbohydrate diet but can be regarded as a more extreme variant. After all, with a keto diet, you do not eat more than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Some people even go so far as to eat no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day. This is very difficult and means that you often have to adjust your entire eating routine. A low-carbohydrate diet is a bit easier to implement in your daily routine and is also easier to maintain.
2. Is a low-carb diet healthy?
When you start a low-carb diet, you will encounter different low-carb diet experiences. One thinks it is a very good diet, while the other warns you about health problems. However, research has shown that a low-carbohydrate diet can indeed be healthy for you, provided you get the right fats and proteins. As long as you make sure you eat balanced meals, consisting of both vegetables and meat, you will not experience any health problems.
3. Can I eat as much as I want?
Contrary to popular belief, a low-carb diet doesn't mean you can eat anything you want. You will still have to take into account the number of calories you consume per day. An advantage of the low-carbohydrate diet is that you often have less appetite because appetite (and especially appetite for snacks and other delicacies) is caused by an imbalanced blood sugar level. You will therefore have less need to eat so that you automatically consume fewer calories.
4. Will it help my type 2 diabetes?
According to the Diabetes Fund and the Diabetes Association of the Netherlands, a low-carbohydrate diet can have positive effects on people with type 2 diabetes. Because you consume fewer carbohydrates, your blood sugar level remains stable, so you need less insulin. In addition, people often lose weight while following a low-carbohydrate diet, which in turn contributes to the health of the person in question. In some cases, it works so well that a person eventually needs to use less or no medication when they follow a low-carbohydrate diet. However, since this is not always the case, it is recommended to consult with your doctor or a dietician about what a good step to take.
5. How do I lose weight on a low-carb diet?
When you follow a low-carbohydrate diet, you usually eat fewer carbohydrates than usual. This in itself will not make you lose weight. Nevertheless, the diet ensures that you get less hungry because your blood sugar level remains stable. If you are less hungry, you will therefore eat less and leave a second portion more quickly. This reduces your daily calorie intake so that you will lose weight in the long run.
6. How do I keep track of my nutritional values?
It can be quite difficult to estimate how many nutritional values you eat in a day. That's why we recommend keeping track of what you eat using an app like “Myfitnesspal”. When you weigh your food and enter it in the app, you immediately see how much fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and calories it contains. All nutritional values are added together so that at the end of the day you can see how much you have eaten and how many carbohydrates are part of that. In the beginning, it can be difficult to estimate, which makes such an app very useful. At some point, however, it becomes easier and you will eventually no longer need the app.
7. Isn't a lot of fat unhealthy on a low-carb diet?
There are two types of fats, saturated fats, and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good for the body. You can find these in vegetable oils, fish, and nuts. Saturated fats cannot harm in small amounts, such as in a piece of burger or a slice of bacon. Nevertheless, they may contribute to cardiovascular disease in greater amounts. Depending on how you follow your diet, the fats can do little harm and contribute to a healthy body. However, if you notice that you eat too much-saturated fat, it may be wise to replace it with products with unsaturated fats.
8. Can I never eat again…?
There are not many disadvantages of a low-carbohydrate diet, except that you sometimes have to adjust your diet. Surely there will be certain dishes or foods that you like. That's very normal. You, therefore, do not necessarily have to eliminate them from your diet – you will at most reduce them a bit. A glass of wine now and then really can't hurt, as long as you keep an eye on the total picture of carbohydrates. The same goes for chips, ice cream, or a tasty pizza.
If you accidentally eat 170 grams of carbohydrates, this is no problem as long as you pick up the thread the next day. However, if you have the idea that you have a vitamin deficiency, you can see to what extent you can add extra vegetables and fruit to your diet, or you can choose to take supplements with vitamins. Always do this in consultation with a medical specialist.
Which foods are low in carbohydrates?
Are you curious about some low-carbohydrate foods? We are happy to highlight a few! Below you will find an overview of the different food groups and low-carbohydrate foods.
Meat, fish, and poultry
In principle, meat, fish, and poultry – when the product is unprocessed – contain little to no carbohydrates. After all, a piece of chicken breast contains no carbohydrates, but a breaded chicken schnitzel does. So ideally choose to eat unprocessed pieces of meat, so that unnecessary carbohydrates can be effectively avoided.
Milk products and eggs
Eggs also contain no carbohydrates and therefore fit perfectly in a low-carbohydrate diet. With dairy products, it is already a bit more difficult. Many kinds of cheese contain few carbohydrates, often only 2 or 3 grams per 100 grams. Milk and yogurt often contain more carbohydrates, about 5 to 9 grams per 100 milliliters. A good alternative to this is non-animal milk, such as unsweetened soy milk or unsweetened almond milk. This milk contains only 0.1 and 0.9 grams of carbohydrates per 100 milliliters.
Seeds and nuts
Seeds and nuts are great sources of good fats and proteins. As an advantage, they also contain relatively few carbohydrates. Walnuts, for example, contain about 14 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. Often you only eat a handful of 30 grams, so you are about 3 grams of carbohydrates at a time. Flaxseed contains 12 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. Almond flour, coconut flour, and broken linseed are therefore widely used in the preparation of various dishes.
With vegetables often (but not always) the rule applies: the greener they are, the fewer carbohydrates they contain. Broccoli and green beans, for example, are very low in carbohydrates. Tomatoes and onions are a bit more. Celery and cucumber contain almost no carbohydrates at all, but they also have fewer calories, fat, and protein. Mushrooms are your best friend on a low-carb diet. Not only do they contain a lot of proteins and good vitamins and minerals; they are also very low in carbohydrates, so you can use them in everything.
Fruit is known for being full of sugars and carbohydrates. However, several fruits are low in carbohydrates. For example, strawberries and avocados contain only 8 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams, and avocado is high in good fats. In addition, blueberries and apricots are great options if you are looking for low-carb fruits.
Oils and fats
You end up frying a lot of meals in oil or butter. These easily digestible foods are also low in carbohydrates and therefore fit perfectly with a low-carbohydrate diet. However, it is important to watch the calories here, because with a dash of olive oil or butter you quickly reach 100+ calories.
As everyone knows, water is the best drink to drink on a low-carb diet, but luckily there are more options. Black coffee, for example, contains no carbohydrates and neither does a cup of tea (unless it contains dried fruits). Would you like milk in your coffee? Then use only a small splash, or use some fatty cream. It also contains few carbohydrates. Craving a flavored drink? Then choose sparkling water with a fruit flavor. These drinks also contain little to no carbohydrates. A juice, wine, or beer from time to time can also not harm, but try to limit this as much as possible where possible.
Spices are effective seasonings and contain virtually no carbohydrates and calories, especially when used in small amounts (such as a teaspoon of cinnamon). You can always use this in your meals.
Snacks and snacks
Dark chocolate contains a lot fewer carbohydrates than other types of chocolate. So you can use this as a snack or for a dish. Homemade peanut rocks with dark chocolate are therefore a responsible snack to eat now and then. Peanut butter is also a great choice, as long as it's a recipe with no added sugars. The same applies to slices of sausage and cheese: if they are processed as little as possible, you can eat them just fine. Therefore, always check the packaging before you buy it. A few slices of sausage with some cottage cheese and cucumber is a delicious low-carb snack.
A low-carb diet summarized
A low-carb diet is a diet where you consume fewer carbohydrates than you normally would. An average person usually eats about 230 grams of carbohydrates per day, with a low-carbohydrate diet this number is between 50 grams and 130 grams. Low-carb is not the same as the keto diet, where you eat a maximum of 50 grams of carbohydrates per day.
When you follow a low-carbohydrate diet, your body switches to a different energy source, so you burn more fat. The benefits of a low-carb diet are that many people lose weight, making it a popular diet. In some cases, a low-carbohydrate diet can even reduce symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
There are several foods that you can eat during a low-carbohydrate diet because many people already eat these days, they do not need to change much. These foods come from all different food groups, so you can maintain a balanced diet.
It is important to continue to eat a balanced diet, even when you eat fewer carbohydrates. After all, this has the best effects on your health.