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Do low carb diets work?

A low carb diet is exactly as it sounds: you cut out most of the carbohydrates from your diet. This means you cut out foods like breads, pasta, rice, alcohol and some vegetables, but on the other hand, you are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of meats, cheese and butter. Sounds too good to be true? Well, there is a scientific reason behind it: a diet like this forces your body to use fat as its energy source.

Do they really work?

The answer is both yes and no. People who go on a low-carb diet will initially lose weight and lose it quickly. The reason this works is because your body will go into a state called "ketosis." Ketosis is where fat becomes the main source of fuel for the body. This occurs when people fast, exercise too much or seriously cut back on carbs.

Bodybuilders say that a low-carb diet gives them the results they are looking for because they leave room for high protein consumption. Hollywood starlets use this diet to quickly shed a few pounds for a movie role, but not as a long-term weight loss fix. Carbohydrates do make people fat, but then again, so does protein if consumed in excess.

Are they healthy?

Many essential vitamins and nutrients come from carbohydrates as part of a balanced diet. These nutrients are essential to good health, and when they are reduced the higher amount of protein you are eating puts a strain on your kidneys. Most of the weight loss comes from muscle tissue and water weight, not the fat the dieter intended. When losing muscle tissue, you are hurting your body in the long run as muscle aids in burning fat.

Can you maintain them for a long time?

You can try to maintain the low carb diet, however after a year most people drop out of all diets. Just like any diet, if you want to keep the weight off, you will have to stick with the diet – the short-term weight loss that many people experience does not last. In fact, once your body leaves the ketosis state, many people gain a few pounds back, which can lead to the infamous yo-yo dieting cycle. This is not a healthy solution. There haven't been any major studies on long-term low-carb dieting, so while you may get great short-term results, you might be hurting your body down the road.

Can you stay healthy and preserve weight loss if you stop the diet?

Instead of counting the carbohydrates you take in, simply switching the carbs you eat will help you stay healthy. There are several carbohydrates that have a nutritional substance to them. That is the key. Whole grains and fruits have plenty of vitamins, minerals and fiber to promote a healthy diet. Variety and portion control are the important things to focus on for a healthy diet.

By Danielle Branch

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