‘Low-carbohydrate diets’ are one of the most searched topics on the Internet today. A popular variant of the low carbohydrate diet is the ‘ketogenic diet’ which prioritises high fat intake for weight loss. With all the hype surrounding it, does cutting down our rice and overall carbohydrate intake truly benefit our health?
What is a Low-Carb Diet?
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient found in many foods and drinks – and are important as our body’s main fuel source.
Carbohydrate recommendations from various countries range from 45-65% of our daily calories. A low-carbohydrate (low-carb) diet emphasises foods high in protein and fat, limits (or even excludes) most rice, noodles, bread, pasta, legumes, fruits, sweets, starchy vegetables and dairy products. This diet reduces carbs to below 45% of our daily calories.
Some examples of low-carb diets are the ketogenic, low-carb high-fat (LCHF), the Paleo and the Atkins diets. Each has different restrictions on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you can eat.
Are There Benefits of Following a Low-Carb Diet?
Yes, health benefits have been demonstrated – such as weight loss and lowered risk of chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
There are several theories for what causes weight loss:
However, few long-term studies have been conducted on low-carb diets. As such, the health benefits of sticking to such a diet beyond one year have yet to be determined.
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This article is contributed by Rachel Tso, Dietitian at Mount Alvernia Hospital.
Stay tuned next week to Part 2 of the article – where we will talk more on ketogenic diet.
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