What is it?There are lots of different low-carb diets around but the Atkins Diet is perhaps the most famous. Carbohydrates consist of sugar, starches and fibre and are found naturally in lots of foods such as fruit, veg, wholegrain cereals and brown rice.
A low-carb diet is where you restrict the number of carbs you eat, replacing them with protein rich foods like meat and cheese.
How does it work?Our bodies break down carbohydrates and fats into sugar which then gives us energy. Low-carb diets are based on the idea that if we don't eat carbohydrates, our body will use stored fat for energy instead.
Eaten as part of a balanced diet, carbohydrates are a healthy and
low-fat way of providing your body with energy. For this reason, doctors
and nutritionists are unlikely to recommend you follow a low-carb diet.
Many people still use them to try and lose weight, though. The Atkin's
Diet is particularly popular because it boasts you can eat bacon and
eggs for breakfast and still lose weight.
What are the drawbacks?Many people who try to avoid carbs end up eating too protein which can
put strain on your kidneys. Not eating enough fruit and vegetables can
also increase your risk of bowel cancer.
Some nutritionists argue the majority of weight loss during a low-carb
diet is down to water and muscle tissue, not fat. Muscle tissue burns
calories even when you're not active. So if your body starts to burn its
own muscle tissue, you will need fewer calories to maintain your
weight. This could lead to you putting weight on when you stop the low
What do you do?People who follow a low carb diet drastically reduce the amount of
carbohydrates in their diet by cutting down on pasta, bread, rice and
alcohol. In extreme cases, even fruit and vegetables are limited or
avoided as these also contain carbohydrates. Instead, people on low carb
diets eat more protein-rich foods like meat, fish, cheese and eggs.
Meat, fish and dairy products like cheese and milk are encouraged. You
can still put dressings on your salads and cook with butter.
Fruit and veg are limited depending on which plan you follow.
Typical day's dietBreakfast: Fried egg, ham
Lunch: Goats cheese and avocado salad
Dinner: Roast lamb with green veg
Top tipInstead of mashed potato, mash veg like swede instead.
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Find out moreLook at www.food.gov.uk, www.lowcarbiseasy.com.