Low Carbohydrate diets have been touted for more than 10 years as being really good for helping people lose weight. Such diets as Atkins and the South Beach Diet are among the most popular of the low-carb diets.  The creators of these diets propose that a diet low in carbohydrates allows a person’s body to more easily use fats as energy, thereby burning excess fat and allowing a person to easily lose weight. It has even been proposed by advocates of low-carb dieting that people with diabetes can eat their way to a non-diabetic life, eventually being able to stop taking insulin and other medications.   But these diets have both pros and cons that must be weighed.

PROS:

  • Reduces the amounts of processed sugars eaten
  • Promotes the use of dietary fiber in foods to counteract carbohydrates
  • Promotes eating fruits and vegetables*
  • Gets low-carb dieters away from eating processed starches (breads, pastas, pastries – which tend to contain GMO ingredients)
  • Reasonable grocery cost

CONS:

  • Tends to be high in fats, including saturated fats
  • Promotes high protein in the diet to feel satiated (45-85 grams of protein a day is adequate depending on your activity level)
  • Carbohydrates are supposed to be kept below 60 grams a day (difficult to do if you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily)*
  • Although you eat fruits and vegetables with this diet, you cannot eat many of the more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables due to their high-glycemic/high-carb status (i.e. root vegetables like beets and onions, which are beneficial)
  • Proposed used of alternative sweeteners (including Aspartame – which is GMO) to avoid excess carbs. This is problematic because the body cannot discern the difference between natural sugars and artificial sweeteners and thus the glycemic result is the same…it spikes blood sugar.

The Atkins low-carb diet was one of the first diets my husband and I tried after he was diagnosed as a diabetic.  Although both of us lost some weight with low-carb dieting, and the grocery cost was reasonable, it never helped my husband to get his high-cholesterol or high-triglycerides under control, and in turn, his blood sugar also stayed high.  The saturated fats and artificial sweeteners seem to be the downfall of this diet.  For a low-carb diet to be adequate in weight-loss as well as being healthy for you, it needs to reduce the amount of saturated fats you eat and promote the use of natural, non-GMO sweeteners in moderation, in addition to eating plenty of low-calorie fruits and vegetables.