In the recent years, low carbohydrate diets have become a regular topic of discussion regarding their efficiency in weight-loss practices and prevention of obesity. The World Health Organization reports indicate that there has been a tremendous upsurge in numbers of people contracting obesity; a disease that is linked with development of diabetes, high blood pressure and organ cancers. It is estimated that there are over one billion overweight people globally; more than 30% of them suffer from obesity ( World Health Organization (WHO), 2005). A range of low-carbohydrate diets that include but not limited to Atkins, zones, power proteins, sugar busters and the south beach diet have been put forward as potential solutions to the problems. This paper takes a keen interest to evaluate the low carbohydrate diets.
Low carb diets limit the consumption of carbohydrate-rich foodstuff that include sugars, grains fruits and greens and promote the use of protein and fat rich diets. Carbohydrates are usually referred to as energy giving foods since they contain sugars that are used in respiration for production of energy. Proteins on the other hand are responsible for body and tissue development. It therefore surfaces that without carbohydrates people would develop body structures lacking in energy and with poor cellular activities. Carbohydrates also contain dietary Fibre that helps to reduce risks of bowel cancer by lowering PH production and improving time of stool transit (Williams, 2013).
It is argued that if levels of carbohydrate supply to the liver glycogen are reduced for short durations, the human body would be deprived of energy and fat oxidation would be stimulated to produce extra energy for use by the body (Frigolet, 2011). This process leads to body weight loss as fats are used up during anaerobic respiration to produce energy. However, studies show that this weight loss only occurs on short term, usually three to six months, and the overall weight loss over a long time is generally insignificant. Long term studies reveal that subjects on low carb diets are usually severely affected by body weight and diabetes compared to their normal compatriots. Furthermore, the cost of low carb diet is usually high and the subjects usually find it hard to maintain it.
Low carbohydrate diets usually discourage consumption of fruits, vegetables and beans (Haff, 2001). Nutritionists recommend that intake of fruits provides the body with vitamin-C which is essential in the prevention of dental diseases. Vegetables contain essential vitamins that boost the body’s immunity and protect it against diseases. Limiting the intake of fruits, grains and vegetables in one’s diet, as often with low carb diets, is therefore a breach of ethics of nutrition and may lead to poor health.
Low carb diets are usually fat-rich and their long term consumption leads to increased cholesterol accumulation levels in the body resulting in increased risks of heart disease, low calcium leading to bone mineral loss, kidney stones and constipation.
Carbohydrates are the primary sources of energy for the human body, they contain sugars, vitamins and fibres that are essential for healthy functioning of the body. Restricting levels of carbohydrate intake would pose serious risks and exposure to various mineral and vitamin deficiency diseases. Since low carb diets are anticipated to provide health benefits only on the short term basis, it is unnecessary and difficult for one to subscribe to such a prescription for a short period and then turn back to normal food habits.
The ideal methods for weight loss and good health involve total lifestyle change and adopting good training programs rather than resorting to dietary restrictions. It is true that low carbohydrate diets help in body weight loss; however, this is usually on short term basis and continued use of low carb diets could have devastating nutritional effects on the subjects.
Frigolet, María-Eugenia , V.-E. a. (2011). Low-Carbohydrate Diets: A Matter of Love or Hate. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 58: 320–334. Web.
Haff, G. G. (2001). Roundtable Discussion: Low Carbohydrate Diets and Anaerobic Athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal , 23(3), 42-61. Web.
Williams, P. (2013). The pros and cons of carbohydrate intake in modern Australia and New Zealand- an overview of their health effects. ILSI and GLNC seminar , (p. 21). Australia.
World Health Organization (WHO). (2005). Preventing chronic diseases: a vital investment. Geneva: WHO.