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Low Carb Diet Myths: Clearing up the Mystery
Written by: Karen Duncan
What is a low carb diet?
All carbohydrates are not created equal, and a low carb diet, also referred to as reduced carbohydrate, controlled carbohydrate, or low glycemic diet, is a rather broad term for many different types of eating plans. There's no one actual, concrete definition for a "low carb diet" per se, so it's basically up to the individual to decide how they want to interpret the phrase.
Under current law, food manufacturers are required to list the number of carbohydrates in their products within the nutrition label. Also listed are the net carbohydrates, which are those that affect one's blood sugar levels, causing them to increase.
Net carbohydrates are a key aspect of many popular low carb diet plans, as is following the "no white food" rule. This popular approach to the low carb diet eschews white flour, sugars, potatoes, and white rice.
Myth #1: You aren't allowed to eat fruits and vegetables on a low carb diet.
Fact: Non-starchy vegetables are one of the staples while following this type of diet. The list of veggies that are encouraged on low carb diets is a long one, but includes greens, sprouts, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, onion, eggplant, and asparagus.
Some of the fruits permitted on low carb diets are also those with the highest nutritional value, which is an added benefit. Grapefruit, rhubarb, plum, peaches, apricots, cherries, papaya, apples, guava, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are some fruits that are low in sugar.
Myth #2: Low carb diets aren't for people with heart or kidney disease.
Fact: Time and time again, scientific studies consistently show levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure all improve after following a diet low in carbohydrates but higher in protein. Even in long term studies, the risk of heart disease did not increase although the diet was high in animal fats.
Although people suffering from kidney disease are generally told to follow low protein diets, a low carb version has never been shown to negatively affect those with kidney problems.
Myth #3: Following a low carb diet is harmful to the bones.
Fact: Protein promotes strong, healthy bones, and since low carb diets focus quite a bit on protein, this myth is unfounded.
Myth #4: Low carb diets won't give me enough fiber.
Fact: Low carb diets actually encourage fiber since it remains undigested longer, and has the ability to minimize the impact of sugars in the blood.
Myth #5: Low carb really means "No carb".
Fact: Even the "induction," or first phase of many low carb diets contain some carbohydrates, which are essential for the body to function properly. The number of carbohydrates recommended, usually 20 to 30 for the first two weeks, is just very limited, opposed to what most people usually consume in a day.
Sample Low Carb Daily Diet Menu
- Bacon or sausage
- Black or sugarless coffee or tea
- Salad with lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, and onion
- Ranch dressing
- Slice of cheese melted over two cauliflower florets
- Sugarless beverage, water
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, with sautéed mushrooms
- Steamed broccoli with butter/cheese
- Salad with dressing
- Sugarless beverage, water
- Sugar-free gelatin
- Whipped cream