Low carb diets have been around for many years and reached their peak during the Atkins craze. There is a good reason too – they work.
But, with the many varieties of low carb diets out there trying to capitalize on their popularity, how can you figure out which one is the best for you? While low carb diets all work on a similar premise, namely reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Diets are not one size fits all, and some people will have more success with one diet while another may do better with another. The best low carb diet is a subjective subject, so the key is to learn the differences between the different ones out there and figuring out which one suits your lifestyle best.
The Atkins Diet
The most famous low carb diet is probably the Atkins plan. Developed by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 70s, and first brought to the public in his 1972 bestselling book. First viewed as yet another “fad” diet, many serious health care professionals and nutritionists discounted his method. However, unlike other popular diets, the Atkins diet did not fade away, and in fact, is still one of the most popular and successful methods of weight loss.
The Atkins plan is a multi-stage diet. It begins with an “induction” phase, where carbohydrates are severely restricted. Because glucose, primarily obtained from carbohydrates, is necessary for the body to function, it is forced to turn elsewhere to find fuel. It essentially forces the body to run off of its stores of fat, resulting in weight loss. During the induction phase, there is no limit to the number of calories, protein, or fat you consume. Only carbohydrates are restricted and must be kept below 20 grams per day.
After the initial induction of ketosis, carbohydrates are slowly added back into the diet, although still in limited quantities. By this time you should have lost the bulk of the excess weight, and be working towards maintenance.
Unfortunately, this diet plan is not suited for everyone. Some studies indicate that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies if not supplemented with multivitamins. Others find it too restrictive, making it difficult to adhere over the long term. However, many people have found success with this diet plan, which is why it has remained popular over the years.
The South Beach Diet
Another popular low carb diet is the South Beach Diet. This diet is another low-carb diet, however, it is not as strict on carbohydrates as Atkins. In this plan, not all carbohydrates are the same. The only type that is restricted are carbohydrates with a high glycemic value. Lower glycemic carbohydrates, such as those high in fiber, are allowed.
Like the Atkins plan, this diet progresses in stages. The initial stage being the lowest in carbohydrate, while high in protein and fat. As you progress through the plan, carbohydrate consumption is slowly increased while fat and protein are decreased.
The South Beach Diet is great for those who find the Atkins plan too restrictive, or for those looking to keep a lot of vegetables in their diet. However, some dieticians question the effectiveness. Nonetheless, many others have been successful.
Picking The Right Plan
Choosing the best low carb diet involves several factors. A diet will only work if you are able to stick with it. Regardless of how effective a diet is for one person, if you can’t follow it to the letter, you will not succeed. That is why it is important to evaluate each option and decide which one fits into your lifestyle best. For example, vegetarians may find it hard to follow the meat and protein-rich Atkins plan, so might see better success with another diet option.
No matter which diet you choose, it is always a good idea to talk with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to ensure that you remain healthy while dieting, and can keep an eye on your nutrition levels through blood tests to ensure you do not develop any deficiencies.