Low Carb Diets

The Pros and Cons of Low Carb Diets

For the past several years low carb diets have been at the top of the heap in eating programs designed for weight control. So just what is a carbohydrate anyway? Without going into a detailed scientific explanation, suffice it to say that "carbs" are produced by plants and they act as energy storage units. Along with protein and fat, they give us fuel for our bodies to run on. Since protein can convert to carbohydrates, there are those who've been saying for years that we don't need to eat carbs--or at least very many of them.

Negative Aspects

There is ongoing controversy over the current craze which includes several well-known low carb diets. Those in favor of them say they work well and that basically we can live on protein and fats alone. Other research has shown that eliminating carbohydrates altogether can lead to some health problems. Some of the things cited are possible brain damage, poor performance in endurance or high-energy exercises, and kidney failure. These naysayers believe that the energy provided by protein isn't enough to sustain us and that more ammonia is released into the blood when we ingest too much protein.

Agreement and Disagreement

The most popular of the low carb diets target too much insulin production as the main culprit in obesity. Since carbohydrates enhance this process, some experts believe that doing away with them, especially sugar, certain grains, and starches, will make us healthier and slimmer as well. The disagreements relating to diet plans stem from which and how much of specific carbs should be done away with. The consensus is that all processed sugar is bad, vegetables have more merits than fruits, and fruits more than grains.


Some proponents of low carb diets take a historical, evolutionary approach. They believe that humans were designed to eat meat, and that our tendency toward obesity stems from trying to adapt to low-fat, high carbohydrate meals, has been our undoing. Carbs stimulate insulin production and send a signal to our systems to store, rather than use, the energy. They point to French eating habits, which include a diet much higher in fat than typical American ones, and see them as healthier. They draw their conclusions for looking at statistics showing the French as suffering less obesity and fewer heart problems.

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