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Although lots of experts disapprove of low carb diets for health reasons, many, particularly those who love bacon and eggs, may find it works for them.
It’s important to remember, however, that although its an effective way to lose weight initially, a low carb diet is not a long term diet.
What is a low carb diet?
There are lots of different low-carb diets around, with the Atkins Diet perhaps being the most famous of them all.
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 a low carb diet 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 carb diet.
Low carb foods:
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 like turkey and veal, fish such as salmon, trout, shellfish, haddock and sardines, 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.
Veg that is encouraged includes: broccoli, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, kale, eggplant, bell peppers, asparagus and mushrooms.
Fruits that are typically welcomed on the diet would be strawberries, grapefruit, raspberries and apricot.
Low carb snacks:
If you’re ever feeling hungry in between meals, it’s good to bear in mind that nuts and seeds are the perfect snacks to get you through the day while on a low carb diet.
Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are all delicious low carb snacks which will keep you on track when it comes to your weight loss goal.
Typical day’s diet
Breakfast: Fried egg, ham
Lunch: Goats cheese and avocado salad
Dinner: Roast lamb with green veg
TOP TIPS: How to reduce carbs
Instead of mashed potato, mash veg like swede and carrot to eat with your main meals.
Swap spaghetti for courgetti strips, which you can make with a vegetable peeler if you don’t want to invest in a spiralizer.
Opt for cauliflower rice instead of normal rice to cut down on your carb intake. You can make this easily in the blender but it’s often available pre-made in many supermarkets.