What is the Most Popular Low Carb Diet?
Max Carmody, MSc
The most popular low carb diet at the moment is the Keto diet. Some other popular types of low carb diets are the Paleo diet, the Atkins diet, the Whole30 diet, and the South Beach diet.
What are Carbs?
Carbohydrates, or carbs for short, are a type of macronutrient. Macronutrients are types of nutrients that your body needs in large amounts to survive, the other two types are protein and fat. Carbs are made up of sugar starched and fiber. Your digestive system breaks down carbs into glucose, and then your bloodstream absorbs the glucose and uses it as energy to fuel the body. There are different types of carbs, simple carbs, and complex carbs. Both types of carbs give your body energy. Simple carbs however provide short bursts of energy, and complex carbs take longer for your body to break down, they are a longer lasting energy source. Simple carbs are found in things like table sugar and fruit, and complex carbs are found in things like whole grains, and sweet potatoes.
Low Carb Diet
On a low carb diet, as the name suggests, the aim is to reduce the amount of carbs that you are consuming. Typically under 130 grams of carbs is considered to be low carb. However, there are some low carb diets that go as low as 50 grams of carbs, or even 20 grams of carbs a day, such as the keto diet. Typically, on a low carb diet, because you are eating fewer carbs, you need to make it up with protein, or fat, or both.
Types of Popular Low Carb Diets
One type of low carb diet is the paleo diet. The paleo diet is modeled on prehistoric eating, what people used to eat. The idea behind this diet is that our genes are not well adjusted for the modern diets that grew out of farming. On a paleo diet you eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, lean meats, fish, and oil from fruits and nuts, such as walnut oil or olive oil. You don’t eat grains, legumes, dairy products, refined and added sugar, added salt, starchy vegetables, or highly processed foods like chips or cookies.
The Atkins diet is another type of low carb diet, this one is branded. The Atkins diet was developed in the 1960’s, by heart specialist Robert Atkins. The Atkins diet restricts carbs, and focuses on proteins and fats. In the Atkins diet there are several different phases for weight loss and maintenance. The purpose of the Atkins diet is mostly for weight loss. But it claims to be a healthy approach whether you want to lose weight, change your overall eating habits, have medical concerns you think the diet can improve, or like the related Atkins Diet products, such as cookbooks and shakes. According to the Atkins diet you don’t need to focus on trimming off excess fat, but it’s avoiding carbs that is important.
Then there is the Whole30 diet. The Whole30 diet is supposed to be like pushing a “reset” button on your health. For 30 days, you are supposed to eliminate the foods that scientific literature or clinical experience have shown to be commonly problematic in one of the following areas: cravings and habits, blood sugar regulation and hormones, digestion and immune system, or inflammation. There is a lot of emphasis on eating whole foods in the program. Then after the 30 days you slowly reintroduce the foods, and scientifically take account of how you feel. This diet is not specifically intended for weight loss, but weight loss may occur. Foods like lean meats, vegetables, and eggs are discouraged, whereas foods like french fries, sugar, and dairy are discouraged.
The South Beach diet is another popular type of low carb diet. The South Beach diet is a popular type of commercial weight loss diet, it was created in 2003 by cardiologist Arthur Agatson. It is sometimes called a modified low carb diet. It’s lower in carbs and higher in healthy fats and protein that a typical eating plan. But it is not a strict low carb diet. The South Beach Diet claims that it’s balance of complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats result in it being a fiber rich, nutrient dense diet that you can follow for an entire lifetime of healthy eating. It teaches you about different kinds of fats, and encourages limiting of unhealthy fats while eating foods with healthier fats. In the final maintenance phase, you may be eating as many as 140 grams of carbs a day, which is more than most low carb diets, but still lower than the amount of carbs most people are eating. To find out if low carb diets tend to be a good diet in general, you can read an article that I wrote here.
What is the Most Popular Type of Low Carb Diet?
I could not find any official data on this, and I’m not sure whether there is any, but I believe that the most popular type of low carb diet, at the time that this article was written at least, is the Keto Diet. The Keto Diet is absolutely everywhere you look, it is all over the internet, you can buy Keto everything in every grocery store you go in, bookshops have tons of Keto cookbooks. We are truly in the middle of a Keto diet craze right now, this is the golden age of Keto. I have even tried it myself for about a week, and I was able to lose a few pounds, and loved all the fatty food it let me eat.
So what is the Keto diet? The keto diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. It is pretty similar to Atkins, and other types of low carb diets. On a Keto diet, you generally eat under 50 grams of carbs a day, and even as low as 20 grams. The basic idea is, you drastically reduce carbohydrate intake and replace it with fat. This drastic reduction puts your body into a state called ketosis. When your body is in ketosis, it becomes incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy. It turns fat into ketones in the liver, that can supply energy for the brain.
I am not sure exactly why the Keto diet is so popular, but I suppose that if it is this popular, it must be working for a lot of people. When I tried it, I found it to be the most enjoyable diet I ever went on, certainly. I didn’t even miss the carbs, because I got to eat so much nice cheese, and greasy bacon and sausage. And it worked, I did lose a few pounds after only 5 days.
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Max Carmody, MSc
Thanks so much for the heads up!