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Are low carb diets safe?

Low carb diets have gained popularity since the early 1970s with the advent of the Atkins diet, followed by many other variations which have come along. However, there has been a backlash by many nutritionists who point out the unhealthy aspects of a low carb diet. This article outlines the usefulness of moderate carb intake while avoiding the pitfall of excessively of low carb diets.

Low carb diet claims

Dr Atkins in his now famous book, “Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution", suggests that by, carbohydrate reduction, the body will gain a metabolic advantage. The reasoning behind this is as follows: Reduced carbohydrate intake, forces the human body to metabolise stored fat instead of glucose. This process is known as ketosis and is normally produced when insulin levels are low, occurring usually on an empty stomach.
Dr Atkins' views
This process of metabolising stored fat instead of glucose results in a higher number of calories being burned off, which in turn creates a metabolic advantage. Furthermore, when stored fat is burned off, it does not result in a rise in blood sugar. This should in theory at least, help to prevent the onset of diabetes, which may occur as a consequence of high carbohydrate intake over the long-term. Nutritionists' views
However, after the initial excitement caused by the Atkins diet and other low carb diets, many nutritionists came back with the retort that low carbs are unacceptable. Their case was based on the obvious point that if carbs are low, then protein and fat intake will have to be increased. This would be detrimental to the liver and kidneys, causing excessive protein intake and damage to the heart and cardiovascular system as a result from excessive fat intake. Changes
In recent times, some protagonists of the low carb diet have presented modifications of the low carb diet. In these modifications, they suggest a lower level of protein intake, while suggesting that high intake levels of fat are not dangerous after all.

The balanced approach to carb intake

While still open to debate, most nutritionists still argue with low carb diet advocates, suggesting that carbohydrates are necessary as part of a balanced diet. This is where the dieter can follow a balanced approach to carb intake. High carb diets undoubtedly result in obesity, diabetes and a host of other negative side effects.
On the other hand, while there may be some merit in low carb diets, over the long-term, they create an imbalance which could also result in ill health. The low carb diet is clearly not a safe long-term diet. Rather, the better way to produce lasting weight loss is with a low calorie balanced diet which is free of excessive carbohydrates.

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