Can Following a Low Carbohydrate Lifestyle Improve Overall Health?
This week the global obesity levels have topped 2.1 billion people - that’s one third of the whole global population. The United Kingdom is the third most obese nation in Europe. Scientists have termed the environment we live in as “obesogenic” i.e. an environment that is geared at making us gain weight rather than helping us lose weight. So with ever expanding waistlines and the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, can optimum nutrition be an answer to help reverse this trend?
Low carbohydrate regimens can cause quite a stir in some circles, especially when Atkins is mentioned. However, what does low carbohydrate lifestyle look like? Is it really that restrictive and most importantly, is it practical?
Is It Practical?
There have been a lot of clinical studies that have looked at analysing the overall health benefits that this lifestyle can confer not only for weight loss reasons but also to help improve a variety of health markers.
A UK general practice decided to put this theory to test by seeing if patients would not only be willing to change their dietary lifestyle, but more importantly, would it confer the results reported in various clinical research settings. The results, much to the astonishment of the authors themselves, were much better than anticipated.
All participants not only saw their weight decrease, but they also reported no feelings of hunger thereby making the week on week weight loss a much pleasant surprise. Health markers such as HbA1c (blood sugar marker) levels decreased significantly, blood pressure also decreased significantly leading to some individuals coming off their medications. There was also a marked significant improvement in liver function with serum GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transferase) enzyme improving by an average of 47%, much to the astonishment of the authors themselves. Other significant health benefits seen was a significant decrease in total serum cholesterol.
The authors remarked that a simple intervention/recommendation to follow a low carbohydrate lifestyle would have not only positive effects on the patients’ health markers but also on their lifestyle and energy levels. In fact some participants found that they naturally took up more physical activities as a result of increased energy levels.
Low Carbohydrate - What does it actually mean?
A well formulated low carbohydrate lifestyle is one which is not only low in sugar, but also low in starch. To fully get the benefits of this way of eating, you need to ensure that you are also consuming the right amount of protein but also the right amount of beneficial fats. It is also important to ensure that you are consuming the right vegetables and fruits in order to get the full benefits of this lifestyle approach.
White bread and all other refined and highly processed meals are avoided - not a bad thing as these often provide no nutritional benefit and in fact are termed as ‘empty calories’. Items such as wholemeal bread pasta and rice, legumes and potatoes - so-called white starch - are sometimes deemed to be a good source of carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately this is not the case. Starchy foods will still be turned into simple sugars in the human gut.
Protein in the form of eggs, meat, fish (especially oily fish) can be eaten freely as can beneficial dietary fats such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and butter. Adding vegetables to the protein will ensure that one is left feeling full and will not require snacking a few minutes after. There is no constant hunger and one is able to enjoy food again.
The Natural Low Carb Range
Our team have worked hard in our test kitchen to come up with meal ideas that not only offer a wholesome nutritious meal but also ensure meals are low in sugar and starches yet contain plenty of beneficial protein and fats - not to mention tasty and delicious!
If you would like more information, or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll be more than happy to help.
Point, P., Low carbohydrate diet to achieve weight loss and improve HbA1c in type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes: experience from one general practice. Available at: http://www.practicaldiabetes.com/SpringboardWebApp/userfiles/espdi/file/March%202014/PP%20Unwin%20final%20proofs%20revised.pdf.