Many people consider dieting for various reasons. The most common type of diet is the low carb diet. This type of diet is based on the idea that eating low carb foods leads to a reduction in insulin levels and so forcing the body to use protein and fat stores as the main sources of energy.
There are different low carb diet plans you hear about and they can be quite confusing.
Popular Low Carb Diets
The following is a general overview of the popular low carb diets. Since the pros and cons of each diet are subjective, we advise you to do your own research and get more information.
For the most popular low carb diet plans, there are books that provide detailed information and a complete set of guidelines. It is definitely a good idea to discuss your plans with your physician and to read the book of your selected diet before starting the diet.
1. Atkins Diet
Also known as the Atkins Nutritional Approach, this diet was made popular by Dr. Atkins in his book Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution.
The diet focuses on limiting the consumption of net carbs in order to force the body to switch from metabolizing glucose for energy to converting the body’s fat stores to a source of energy.
It consists of four phases, with phase 1 starting at 20 grams of carbs a day or less and then gradually increasing the low-carb intake until phase 4 where you can eat as many healthy carbs as your body can tolerate without regaining weight.
Pros: quick weight loss; cons: constant counting of net carbs.
2. Low GI Diet
The glycemic index (GI) was designed for people with diabetes to help control their blood sugar levels.
The GI ranks carbs based on how fast they’re metabolized into glucose. High levels of glucose in the blood increases insulin production, which we want to avoid.
The GI diet focuses on complex carbs that produce a gradual rise in blood sugar, and fiber that helps you feel full longer. The theory is that what works to control blood sugar, should help you drop extra weight because you’re not as hungry, and you feel more satisfied.
You can get tips on how to choose low-GI carbs, and food and menu ideas in books like The New Glucose Revolution: Low GI Eating Made Easy by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell.
Pros: no calorie counting or portion control; cons: constant checking of glycemic index value.
3. Paleo Diet
The premise behind the Paleo diet is that we should eat like our ancestors did in the Paleolithic era – which ended about 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture – as the human body has not yet had the time to evolve to properly digest foods made available by agriculture, such as grains, legumes and diary.
The diet is considered one of the healthiest and most popular low-carb diets for its nutritional approach of putting the focus on health and well-being rather than just weight loss.
Though no single author created this type of diet – the term “paleo” describes the approach in general – the most well-known book is probably The Paleo Diet, by Dr. Loren Cordain.
Pros: rules are very simple and easy to understand; cons: permitted foods can be expensive and difficult to source.
4. South Beach Diet
A weight loss plan that was created by cardiologist Dr. Agatston and dietician Marie Almon as a way to prevent heart disease.
The basic principle behind South Beach diet is ensuring you get your fat and carbs from the right type of foods. Simple carbs are replaced with complex carbs, and trans-fats and saturated fats are replaced with unsaturated fats.
The diet is considered to be higher in healthy fats and protein, and lower in carbohydrates. It adheres to the low glycemic principles, and glycemic index is used as a guide to separate good carbs from bad carbs.
The creator of the diet, Dr Arthur Agatston, wrote a book, The South Beach Diet Supercharged, with the main goal of changing the entire balance of those foods that a person eats, in order to encourage weight loss as well as a healthy lifestyle.
Pros: less restrictive than other low-carb diets, so easier to adjust to; cons: weight loss not guaranteed.
5. Sugar Busters! Diet
A low carb diet that was developed by a group of professionals – Dr. Samuel S. Andrews, Dr. Morrison C. Bethea, Dr. Luis A Balart, and H. Leighton Steward – the Sugar Busters Diet theorizes that “sugar is toxic to our bodies and can cause an increase in insulin”.
Like the Zone Diet, this plan recommends the daily caloric intake to be split into a 40/30/30 ratio, but with 40% made up of fat, 30% protein, and 30% carbs.
The Sugar Busters Diet emphasizes foods with a low glycemic index (GI), which maintain your blood sugar levels at a steady state. This includes a high-fiber diet made up of the right kinds of fruits, veggies, and proteins.
But not all carbs are bad – whole grains are acceptable, though you have to give up refined sugar and flour and make other tweaks to the way you eat.
The book that details the diet, The New Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat, teaches users how to eat the “right” carbs, especially whole grains.
Pros: no counting calories or weighing of food, just watch portion sizes; cons: list of acceptable foods may be confusing.
6. Zone Diet
A low carb diet that advocates the hormonal balance you achieve while consuming calories from a skillfully prepared meal with a balanced ratio of carbohydrates (40%), “good” fats (30%) and low-fat proteins (30%).
Followers eat foods which control the body’s insulin production. No food is completely banned and yet you can lose weight and/or fat while on the diet.
The Zone Diet, unlike other diets, insists dieters to keep a close watch on their caloric consumption while eating – women get about 1,200 calories daily while men get 1,500 calories. To stay in the Zone, the ideal number of calories shouldn’t exceed 500 calories for a meal and 100 calories for a snack.
The book that details the diet, The Zone Diet, by Barry Sears, PhD, provides more information on recipes, along with grocery lists, a Zone food journal, and dining-out tips.
Pros: no meal or snack is forbidden; cons: you need to stick to the 40/30/30 formula at every meal and snack.
These are the most popular low carb diets that are healthy ways to lose weight, burn fat and live a healthier life.
Low-carb diets are used to prevent and treat some chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.
Although there are several low carb diets mentioned above, Atkins, South Beach and Zone are considered to be the most popular low carb diets.