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How Does Low Carb Diet Work For Better Health And Weight Loss?

How Does Low Carb Diet Work For Better Health And Weight Loss?

Going on a low carb diet is something almost everyone has either tried, considered, or heard about at some point. However, low carb diets may mean many different things to different people. The old style low carb dieting meant you ate butter and bacon all day. Most of us know that’s not the quickest ticket to good health, despite that the well-known approach might help you drop weight in the short term.

Thankfully, low carb diets have meant something much different these days. Low carb diets are now usually much more healthy for you and help you eliminate the most harmful carbs from your plate: refined (processed) grains, all added sugars and refined sugars, fast food, and junk food. Most also limit how much starch you have from foods like potatoes and sugars from fruit.

If you want to know more about weight loss, you can’t miss the following article that provides all useful tips you need:

Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One

Steamed-Turmeric-Salmon-and-Peppered-Veggies-The-Soulful-Spoon-by-Heather-McClees

    Image Source: The Soulful Spoon

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    Well, there are many reasons why one might adopt a low carb diet. I have actually lived on a technically low carb diet for the last 10 years. At that time, it helped me overcome two serious medical conditions: chronic acne and food addiction. Here’s my experience with a low carb diet:

    • I don’t count grams per day like some diet advice suggests.
    • I don’t eat bacon and butter (or even meat), if you’re wondering.
    • I eat well-balanced meals rich in clean protein, ample amounts of greens, and any veggies I want.
    • I always include some healthy fats in my day.
    • I enjoy produce sources of carbs like berries, green apples, sweet potatoes on occasion, winter squash, pumpkin, and any kind of vegetable I want.
    • Fermented foods are also a daily part of my routine for optimal gut health and mood function.
    • I eat most of my fermented foods in the forms of kimchi, sauerkraut, plain (non-fat) Greek yogurt, coconut kefir, and 100% dark chocolate (which, yes, is a probiotic-rich food!).

    What about whole grains and nuts? Generally, I even eat whole, gluten-free grains such as oats and wild rice if my body tells me it desires or needs them. This style of eating has helped me learn to crave healthier foods and realize just how much better my body feels on real food versus sugar and flour any day. I also find my blood sugar levels are better and my overall focus at work is tenfold what it used to be.

    Besides what I eat, though, what could someone else gain from a low carb diet? Can’t these diets be dangerous? These are things you might be wondering, and with good reason.

    Low-Carb-Diet

      Here is why a (responsible) low carb diet can help you lose weight and improve your health:

      1. It can reduce the amount of sugar in your bloodstream, which is more beneficial for your blood sugar and heart health.
      2. Eating a heart-healthy diet rich in produce, lean sources of protein, and heart-healthy sources of fats (in moderation) can prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
      3. It reduces insulin swings throughout the day due to better blood sugar levels — but don’t cut carbs too much or you may feel lightheaded and dizzy.
      4. It allows for individuals to see how carbs affect them more closely, which can help them tap into their hunger needs more than just giving into sugar and junk food cravings.
      5. It can help you drop weight either temporarily, through water weight when glycogen levels are depleted due to a reduction of carbs, or long-term, when the body starts to burn its own fat as fuel.

      Here are some other things you should know about low carb diets:

      1. If you cut carbs back too much (from produce, especially), you may get sick and even feel like you have the flu. It’s better to take things slow and work on cutting out the added sugars, refined grains, and all processed and fast food before you go worrying about the carbs in berries and vegetables. Seriously, take it slow and focus on whole foods first.
      2. These diets can cause tendencies for disordered thoughts around food if taken too far. Once again, balance is key here.
      3. It is easy to consume too much fat, which even though is beneficial in small amounts throughout the day, is not always beneficial for everyone in large amounts and can lead to weight gain over time. This is especially true when talking about saturated sources in excess of what your body can process.
      4. You may have increased levels of thirst as your body begins to eliminate sodium and water via the kidneys. Drinking enough water as the body adjusts is essential.
      5. A low carb diet can be hard to stick to if you cut back too much on carbs. Once again, whole foods are carbs you should not be eliminating in the beginning unless you have a doctor’s orders.

      How to set yourself up for a successful low carb diet:

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        Image Source: Amy Selleck/Flickr

        Focus on produce, lean protein, and small amounts of  healthy fats at each meal. Even if you’re vegetarian or vegan, this is simple enough to do. What about whole grains, you may be asking? Moderate-style low carb diets can include small amounts of whole grains throughout the day if your body tolerates them well. Some whole grains (especially steel-cut or rolled oats, wild rice, and quinoa) all have many health benefits that you can take advantage of if your body tolerates them. They are also excellent for lowering blood pressure levels and are rich in heart-healthy magnesium, potassium, and are good sources of iron. However, don’t overdo it on them and eat moderate portions (1/4 – 1/3 cup) once a day instead of relying on them at all your meals.

        Lean protein and produce are your friends for weight loss and lean muscle mass, but you still need some healthy fats and whole food sources of carbs to thrive long-term. Just be careful not to eat lots of carbs and fat in one meal if you’re trying to lose weight. The body relies on either fat or carbs for fuel, but it can’t use both. If you’re trying to gain weight, however, here are some safe ways you can do that in a slow and steady manner.

        Supplement tips and recipes to try on a low carb diet:

          Image Source: Cotter Crunch

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          Finally, please don’t rely on diet bars, processed low-carb shakes, and pricey supplements. Get yourself a good multivitamin from a quality brand, a Vitamin D3 supplement, and a probiotic to support your gut health. Take these daily, and if you have issues with constipation or irregularity, eat more vegetables and add some chia or flax seeds to your routine (which you should be eating anyway since they’re great sources of fats and fiber!).

          Here are some recipes you may enjoy on a low carb diet:

          1. Steamed Turmeric Salmon With Lemon Peppered Veggies

          2. Power Asian Crab and Avocado Spiralized Cucumber Power Salad

          3. Grain-Free Lemon Coconut Breakfast Porridge

          4. 2-Minute Low Carb English Muffin

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          5. Veggies in the Raw Bistro Bowl

          Also, you may enjoy these 20 Low-Carb Recipes to Make You Healthier for even more ideas.

          Optimize real foods, kick the sugar and refined foods, and you’ll be on your way to a naturally healthy, low carb diet in no time — without deprivation!

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          Last Updated on November 15, 2019

          Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

          Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

          Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

          How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

          Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

          The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

          Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

          Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

          When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

          Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

          Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

          The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

          Shocked? Well, I was too.

          The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

          When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

          On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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          Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

          Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

          Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

          Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

          Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

          It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

          Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

          As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

          In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

          A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

          Your metabolism is like your bank account.

          To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

          Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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          What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

          That’s exactly how your body reasons:

          More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

          Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

          Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

          For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

          Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

          Foods That Increase Metabolism

          Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

          Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

          Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

          • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
            When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
          • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
          • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
          • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

          Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

          To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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          1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
          2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
          3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

          Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

          Sugars and Carbs

          Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

          Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

          Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

          Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
          • Dried fruit
          • Commercial and packaged corn
          • High fructose corn syrup
          • All sorts of candies and lookalike
          • Packaged fruit juices and purees
          • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
          Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
          • Bread and flour-based products
          • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
          • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
          • Potatoes and potato starch products
          • Oatmeals and other grains
          Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
          • All berries except strawberries
          • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
          • Sweet potatoes
          • White rice
          • All green vegetables

          Fats

          Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

          Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
          • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
          • Lard
          • Gmo oils
          • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
          Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
          • Nuts
          • Meat fat
          • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
          • Seeds
          Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
          • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
          • Avocado
          • Coconut oil
          • Butter (organic)
          • Egg yolks (free-range)
          • Bone marrow

          The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

          Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

          Proteins

          Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

          Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

          Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

          Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

          For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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          Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
          • Cheap whey proteins
          • Soy proteins
          • GMO meat
          • GMO eggs
          • Packaged meat
          Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
          • Canned tuna
          • Canned fish
          • Canned meat
          • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
          • Farmed fish
          Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
          • Free-range meat
          • Free-range eggs
          • Wild meat and fish
          • Whey protein isolate
          • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

          Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

          Other Foods and Supplements

          Cold water

          Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

          This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

          MCT Oils or Powders

          Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

          You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

          Caffeine

          Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

          Green Tea

          Green tea

          is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

          Bottom Line

          In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

          For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

          Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

          And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

          Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

          Reference

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