Jorgen's Lifes Lessons

Low Carb?
March 24, 2010, 6:30 pm
Filed under: Food/Diet, Healthy Living | Tags: , ,

Another Way to Control Blood Sugar

As you consider the strengths and weaknesses of the Glycemic Index, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of the original goal. What we are really trying to do is control blood sugar levels. Is the consumption of low-GI foods the only way to do this? No, it is not. As we mentioned before, your blood sugar can also be controlled simply by limiting the total number of carbohydrates that you consume in any given meal. In the following sections, we’ll explore different ways to do just that…

Is Low-Carb the Answer?

One alternative to the low-GI diet is the low-carbohydrate diet, which also centers on the concept of controlling blood sugar levels, but does so by limiting total carbohydrate consumption. Low-carb diets have become popular, partially because they are very successful at doing this. As opposed to low-GI diets, they are also very easy to plan and monitor, since carbohydrate counts are known for all foods.

However, low-carb diets are not without their own difficulties, which can include:

1. Deficiency of essential nutrients

If your low-carb diet restricts the amount of fruits and vegetables that you eat, you may not be consuming enough Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Dietary Fiber, which are much more abundant in plant-based foods. It’s also likely that you are consuming less carotenoids (such as Alpha Carotene, Beta Carotene, Beta Cryptoxanthin, and Lycopene). Although no daily values have been established for carotenoids, they are known to be powerful anti-oxidants, and may be necessary for optimal health. It’s possible to supplement these missing nutrients, but there are also many phytochemicals present in plant-based foods that we are just beginning to learn about. Many of these phytochemicals are believed to have positive health benefits, but very few of them are yet available in supplement form.

2. Potential risks associated with high fat consumption

Low-carb diets usually contain large amounts of fat, and numerous studies suggest that higher consumption of fats (particularly saturated fats) increases your risk of heart disease and other ailments. While no definitive link has been established between low-carb diets and heart disease, this is a topic that warrants additional study.

3. Hypoglycemic effects of minimized carbohydrate consumption

Your brain requires glucose to operate. In the absence of carbohydrates, your body is forced to synthesize glucose from digested or stored fats. This somewhat inefficient process results in lower than optimal blood sugar levels, which can leave you feeling lethargic, unalert, and even confused. This effect is most commonly experienced as you transition from a “normal” diet to an ultra-low-carb diet, but can also reappear at times when your body is under increased stress. The decrease in mental alertness, while not harmful in of itself, is a potentially dangerous side effect. (e.g. It can be less safe to operate a car if you aren’t fully alert.)

4. Boredom or cravings resulting from the elimination of carbohydrate-rich foods

We all derive pleasure from the taste of different foods. Any diet that greatly or completely restricts our selection of foods, can lead to increased cravings for the eliminated foods or boredom with the allowable food selections. This, of course, is not a problem specific to low-carb diets, but affects all diets that limit the range of foods that you consume.

5. Added expense of special foods

To overcome the boredom of the low-carb diet, you can turn to the new low-carb versions of foods that are now being offered in many health food and grocery stores. It’s now even possible to find low-carb versions of pancakes and bagels! Unfortunately, though, the elevated cost of some of these specialty food items can add considerably to your food bill.

6. Incompatibility with vegetarian lifestyle

If ¬†you consider yourself a vegetarian, you’ll find that it’s very difficult to follow a low-carb diet, since nearly all low-carb meal plans focus on the consumption of meats and other animal-based foods. I personally eat a lot of fish which of course is not part of a vegetarian lifestyle. I will think about how it will also be possible for vegetarians to create a low carb lifestyle.

If you want a consult considering your eating habits, do not hestitate to contact me

Have a Healthy Live and a superb and energetic day.