What is Low Carb Diet?

As per its name, a low-carb diet is a diet that is low in carbohydrates. There are many versions of low carb diet, among the popular ones are Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet, The Dukan Diet, Protein Power, Paleolithic Diet, etc. Though these diets will have their own recommendation of foods allowed, as a general rule, a low carb diet can also be considered a high proteins and high fats diet. Normally, at least two-thirds of the daily calorie intake for low-carb diet will be from fat sources. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, should make up less than 10%, or in some diets, less than 5% of daily calorie intake. Low-carb diets will normally allow you to have lots of meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, and other protein foods, as well as fats such as butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, vegetable oils, etc. However, you need to cut down on starchy foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and alcohol.

Carbohydrates and Weight Gain

A meal high in carbohydrates will increase the blood sugar level, which will lead to the production of insulin hormone. Insulin will lower blood sugar by converting extra glucose into fats, which will be stored in the body. Besides that, this hormone will also stimulate the brain to produce hunger signals, and thus more carbohydrates are consumed, and the cycle repeats. After some time, the body cells will become resistant to insulin, and much more insulin needs to be produced to fulfill the demand.

How Does Low Carb Diet Work?

The principle of the low-carb diet is that when you reduce the number of carbohydrates in your diet, this will lead to the reduction of insulin production and thus, less hunger. Also, when the source of carbohydrates is not available and the blood sugar levels are low, the body will release another hormone called glucagon to raise the levels by converting stored glycogen into glucose.


When the glycogen stores are depleted, the body will switch to stored fat for energy. The fat stores are broken down into ketones, the main fuel for energy. When more fats are metabolized, the blood ketone levels will be raised, which will lead to a condition called ketosis. When the body is in the state of ketosis, a person may have symptoms like nausea, fatigue, and feeling less hungry. Continuing fat burning and eating less, will directly contribute to weight loss.

Cautions for Low Carb Diet

Though a low-carb diet is effective for weight loss, especially for obese people, the very high ketone levels can be dangerous. Our bodies tend to reduce ketone levels by breathing out and expelling through urine. The prolonged high ketone levels may cause damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys.

Related: Atkins vs Keto Diet: Similarities and Differences