Low Carbohydrate Diet Type
Low carbohydrate diets have a positive impact on obesity, serum lipids, impaired glucose metabolism and hypertension. It is important to understand what constitutes a low carbohydrate diet. There is no need to completely cut out carbohydrates from the diet; positive results can be achieved with a lowered intake of carbohydrates as described in the recommendations below.
Low carbohydrate diets can be classified by the following criteria: a reduced-carbohydrate diet is a diet that comprises approximately 130g of carbohydrates/day or up to 45% of total calories, a low-carbohydrate diet is comprises 30-130g carbohydrates/day, very low-carbohydrate, ketogenic (VLCK) diets comprise less than 30g carbohydrates/day. The popular Atkins & Ducan diets have an initial restriction of 20g of carbohydrates/day for the first 2 months, and then a gradual increase to a maximum of 120g carbohydrates/day in the maintenance phase.
When a patient is recommended to follow a low carbohydrate diet according to their genetics, the low carbohydrate plan, with regards to macronutrient distribution and caloric restriction, should be calculated according to the suitability of the patient in terms of compliance and health parameters, where regular monitoring is advised.
- Refined carbohydrates and all sugars should be avoided, including natural sugars. Refined carbohydrates tend to be low in fibre and made from processed white flour. Examples are white bread, pastries, pies, pita, pizza, cakes, chocolates, sweets, donuts, cookies etc.
- When choosing carbohydrates, opt for good quality sources that are high in fibre and are less processed. Examples are:
- Wholegrain carbohydrates such as oats, brown/wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, spelt, millet, barley etc. will be allowed in limited quantities.
- Starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, potato with skin, and corn as well as peas, carrots, butternut and pumpkin that have higher carbohydrate contents will need to be restricted.
- Fruit such as berries, green apples, citrus and plums are generally lower in sugar but portions will still be limited.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans, spilt peas etc. are sources of both carbohydrates and protein and portions must be monitored.
- Dairy, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, contains both carbohydrates and protein, as well as fat and number of portions per day will need to be controlled.
- The main source of carbohydrate intake will be from vegetables, specifically those with a very low carbohydrate content such as leafy greens, broccoli and cauliflower, tomato, cucumber, baby marrow, aubergines etc.
- Monitor fibre intake as lower carbohydrate diets tend to be lower in fibre. Low fibre diets can lead to constipation, an imbalance in gut bacteria and poor gut health.
- Avoid drinks and foods with artificial sweeteners, and ensure adequate intake of water.
- A basic guide for types and sources of carbohydrates: