Carbohydrate is the primary source of energy for the body. It aids the functioning of the brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system. Thus, it is essential to maintain a good carbohydrate level.
The body’s blood sugar levels depend on carbohydrates. Low availability of carbohydrates can reduce the blood sugars leading to tiredness, weakness, increased heart rate etc. However, it is also important to maintain a balance as excess carbohydrates cause an increase in blood sugars leading to issues like weight gain, diabetes etc.
If the carbohydrate level becomes exceptionally high, it will lead to high blood sugar. Other issues like diabetes and weight gain are also side effects of excess carbs. So, we need to keep track of the number of carbs we take in a day.
Low Carb Diet – An Introduction
Firstly it is essential to understand what a low-carb diet is. A low-carb diet is when you avoid the intake of carbohydrates in the form of sugary products like bread and other refined/processed carbs” and opt for healthy alternatives like fruits, green vegetables, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, and healthy oil and other non-starchy foods and foods with low GI(Glycemic Index) to replenish your carbohydrate requirements.
Following a low-carb diet is very beneficial. It is advisable primarily for overweight people with health problems like diabetes and high blood sugar.
Types of Low-Carb Diet
Typical Low-Fat Diet
It is a normal low-carb diet. The main goal of this diet is to consume a limited amount of carbs and fats in a day. There are no specific restrictions on what exactly to eat.
The only limit is the number of carbs. One should ensure to distribute the limited carbs available in the entire day and not exceed the limit. It is an effortless and effective way to carry a low-carb diet.
According to research, a ketogenic diet is a high protein, high-fat diet which targets minimising carbs. The amount of carbs decreases so much that the body goes to the metabolic state known as ‘ketosis’ where in it burns fat to provide energy to the body in absence of adequate carbohydrates. The diet may be a little intense on the body but is very effective in losing fat and subsequent weight.
Here’s a detailed list of the pros and cons of a keto diet for your better understanding.
Low Carb High Fat Diet
This diet’s main target is to focus on eating whole, unprocessed food. It keeps the carbs amount at a minimum. Here’s an essential guide to a low-carb diet.
Low Carb Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet focuses on eating unprocessed food that was present in the time of the Paleolithic ancestors. A strict paleo diet eliminates all kinds of processed food.
It keeps you away from sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy products. Furthermore, it focuses on healthier, natural and unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, seafood, eggs, tubers, nuts, and seeds.
It is one of the most popular low-carb diets to reduce weight. It also regulates blood sugar and helps with diabetes.
Zero Carb Diet
In this diet, you need to eliminate all carbs. This diet includes only animal-based products. Although some may prefer it, it is advisable not to follow this diet.
Having no carbs makes the body weak and will not be very helpful in the long run. Additionally, it lacks vital nutrients like fibre, essential vitamins and minerals because it only includes animal products.
The Atkins diet is one of the best diets to follow. This diet has four phases. The carb intake is minimised by not consuming high-carb food products. However, it also emphasises getting the recommended amount of protein and fat. Studies prove this diet to be one of the most efficient and effective ones to lose weight.
Eco Atkins Diet
The eco-Atkins diet is the vegan version of the Atkins diet. It would be the best plan for you if you are vegan and want to follow a low-carb diet. It contains only plant-based products.
This diet is one of the best diets to stay healthy and lose weight. In a study conducted by NCBI, researchers found a 6-month-long Eco-Atkins diet to be highly effective. It not only reduces weight but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by regulating blood sugar.
The HealthifyMe Note
A low-carb diet is a diet in which you limit your carbohydrate consumption. There are different kinds of low-carb diets. You can customise your diet according to your requirements. Talk to a dietician to get the best possible results.
Carbs and Blood Sugar: The Relationship
Carbohydrate, also known as carbs, is a long chain of glucose. When you consume a food product, it starts to break down from the moment it enters your mouth. Every food particle is broken down and converted into glucose(sugar), and then distributed to every body part. This sugar gives us the energy to perform our daily tasks. So is it harmful? Well, not if you take it in moderation. But if you start consuming it excessively, it will prove to be dangerous for the body. Since carbs contain a long chain of glucose, it contains large amounts of sugar when broken down by the body.
Hence, blood sugar level is dependent on the carbohydrate level. If there is a lack of carbohydrates, it might lead to low blood sugar. People with low blood sugar tend to become weak. On the other hand, having a large carb-inclusive meal would also affect the body. According to a study, high carbs will increase the blood sugar level and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve problems, and even vision problems.
The HealthifyMe Note
It is vital to balance the amount of carbs intake to lead a healthy lifestyle. A simple solution for this is to track what you are eating. Make sure you know the carbs content in the food you are consuming.
Tips to Manage Blood Sugar
There are several ways to manage blood sugar, as per studies.
Choose High-Fibre Foods
Fibrous-rich foods are healthy for your body and help improve digestion and gut health. You’ll feel satisfied for a longer period, and the urge for snacking will reduce.
Fibrous foods do not cause any change in blood sugar. High-fibre foods also help reduce cholesterol. Fruits are one of the best sources of fibre. It is best to eat the fruits raw along with the roughage. Only then will it give your body complete fibre content.
Reduce Sweet Intake
People love a nice morning tea and coffee or a sweet dish or cake after a good meal. However, these cravings make you eat more than you should. You should minimise sugar intake as much as possible. All the efforts of reducing carbs and exercising every day go wasted if sugar intake is not controlled.
Increase Healthy Fats and Protein in Your Diet
Your body relies on the food intake for energy, hence when you reduce carbs and sugars, the body depends on other sources. The best source of energy would be protein. For protein intake, you can use eggs, meat, seafood, poultry, or cheese. If you are vegan, go for plant-based protein.
Choose a Low-Carb Diet
Yes, you must follow a low-carbohydrate diet. However, you must be careful about the low-carb diet you choose. Try and analyse the diets and find the best fit for your body. A generalised diet will not be able to help improve your condition. Hence it is recommended to seek the help of a nutritionist for a perfect customized diet plan for you. It would depend on your body, habits, schedule, and availability of foods where you live.
A low-carb diet is when you avoid the intake of carbohydrates. You avoid eating sugary and refined products, pasta, and bread in this diet. Instead, you need to incorporate fruits, green vegetables, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, and healthy oil in your diet. If you suffer from high blood sugar, it is essential to keep the carbs under control.
Apart from that, there are several ways to manage blood sugar. The tips include:
- Choosing high-fibre foods.
- Reducing sweet intake.
- Increasing healthy fats and protein intake.
- Personalising your carb intake.
If you follow these tips, you will be able to see effective changes in your body in a matter of 6 months.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Q. Can a low-carb diet cause elevated blood sugar?
A. Yes. The body transforms carbohydrates into simple sugars. Even non-sweet carbohydrates like starchy foods undergo metabolic conversion to simple sugar. Consequently, the blood glucose levels start to increase. In some cases, a low-carb diet can also elevate blood sugar. If you experience this, try including high-fibre in the diet.
Q. What should my blood sugar be on a low-carb diet?
A. The blood sugar on a low-carb diet should remain below 140 mg/dL (8 mmol/L).
Q. Why is my fasting blood sugar high on a low-carb diet?
A. Most people who follow a low-carb or ketogenic diet see tremendous improvements in their ability to control their blood sugar and insulin levels. However, due to individual variability, some individuals experience a spike in fasting blood glucose overtime on a very low-carb diet. There are many reasons for fasting blood glucose spikes, including these two:-
Dawn phenomenon: The physiological processes that occur in everyone regardless of whether they have diabetes. It is an abnormal early-morning increase in blood sugar (glucose) due to the release of hormones like growth hormone, cortisol and Glucagon in the body.
Adaptive Glucose Sparing: Physiologic insulin resistance, also known as adaptive glucose sparing, is a condition that can occur if you strictly adhere to a low-carb diet. Low-carb diets instruct bodies to use fat for energy instead of sugar. Your muscles will begin to reject sugar if you do this successfully. Because of this, even when you eat very little sugar, more of it remains in your bloodstream.
Q. How long does it take for a low-carb diet to lower blood sugar?
A. The time taken to lower the blood sugar level depends on how seriously you follow the low-carb diet. If you are going on an extremely low-carb diet, depending on your condition, you will be able to see the changes in 6 months. Your body will start to feel healthy and fit during this time. It may be sooner for those who did not have a severe condition.
Q. Can your blood sugar get too low on keto?
A. The keto diet may put you at a higher risk of having a blood sugar level that drops too low, particularly if you are on diabetes medication. Generally, people tend to become weak and lower their blood sugar on a keto diet. This happens if you do not consult a nutritionist before starting a diet. A well-planned diet by a qualified nutritionist is the solution to this problem. Any diet that is famous or gives results to someone may not necessarily give the same results to you. Always follow a well-researched and planned diet to reach your desired goal.
Q. Can I have low blood sugar without having diabetes?
A. Yes, it is possible to have low blood sugar even if you do not have diabetes, and this condition is known as Hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar can occur from various causes and diseases unrelated to diabetes. The overproduction of insulin after meals, known as reactive hypoglycemia, fasting, or malnutrition, are some potential causes.
Q. How many carbs raise blood sugar?
A. 10g of carbohydrates will raise blood glucose by 2-3 mmol/l. On average, the minimum amount of carbohydrates is 130gms. Although this can’t be generalised for all, you can reduce it by following a low-carb diet.
Q. Why is my blood sugar high in the morning?
A. During the dawn phenomena, hormones such as cortisol and growth hormone signal the liver to increase glucose production, which gives you the energy to get out of bed. In the morning, you might have high blood sugar because:
- You didn’t have enough insulin.
- Before bed, you ate the incorrect snack.
- Taking medicine
It is nothing to worry about, but if you have an extremely high level, you should consult your doctor.
Q. Can a person with diabetes survive without carbs?
A. It is not healthy to completely give up on carbs. Being a chain of glucose, it provides a good amount of energy to the body. The presence of carbohydrates is necessary for some of our organs. You need to make sure not to abandon carb intake. But keep it to a minimum, according to your body type.