Originating back in the 19th century and redefined and popularized in the ’70s by an American, Dr. Atkins, the low carb diet has been used by people wanting to lose and maintain their goal weight for a very long time. It has recently become popular again with the rise of the Paleo and Keto diets that promote very low daily carb allowances and high fat and protein intake to encourage fat loss.
Certain strains of this diet suggest different levels of carb restriction, but they all come down to the basic principle of restricting the person from consuming simple carbohydrates and increasing the intake of fat and protein to induce a “ natural “ state of ketosis. It is a metabolic state where the body has depleted its glucose stores and is using fat stores for energy instead. Foods like sugar, bread, alcohol, pasta, and rice should be avoided while on a low carb diet, while meat, cheese, butter etc can be enjoyed in a large quantity. A good rule of thumb is to generally avoid processed foods and grain products and eat fresh whole foods instead.
The Atkins diet
The Atkins diet even goes as far as removing certain fruit, legumes and tuber vegetables from the list of things that are allowed to be consumed. That results in rapid weight loss, but unless very careful it can also bring on malnutrition and other unwanted symptoms related to restrictive diets. These things can be prevented by taking high-quality multivitamins, electrolytes and branched chain amino acid supplements that restore the balance in the metabolism and prevent the body from breaking down muscle to create energy.
Often the majority of weight loss comes from losing muscle tissue and water and not the body fat as it intended. Since the muscle tissue is metabolically active at all times a decrease in muscle mass also leads to a reduction of calories your body is burning while active, making it harder to control the weight once off the low carb diet.
Adjusting the diet to vegans out there
Although initially it has promoted high consumption of animal products, the low carb diet has successfully been adapted to fit vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian lifestyles. Meat and dairy products are replaced with tofu, soy/almond milk, seitan, salmon while animal fat is replaced with coconut oil, avocado, and nuts like walnuts and almonds.
Other benefits of low-carb-dieting
Apart from weight loss, some people have noticed other benefits like increased energy levels, lack of mood swings, increased focus, lack of PMS in women and reduced water retention.
While this diet does bring on great results for people wanting to lose weight, you should notice that it can come with a few drawbacks depending on the approach used.
Things like constipation due to a lack of fiber has been an unfortunate staple, acidic breath that comes from ketosis, muscle spasms as a result of lack of vitamins and minerals, headache, dizziness, and fatigue have all been noted.
My personal experience is that my body does not deal with carbs well, I love them (especially pizza), but I always feel sleepy and low-energy when I load up on them.
I do have to admit that I don’t follow the strict principle of zero carbs of the Atkins diet because juices are the only thing that brings any joy to my taste buds while dieting, so I’m not giving that up – you can see my favorite juicer recipes here.
In conclusion, a low carb diet can bring on great visual results, and in some cases, it has been beneficial to people who have diabetes by restricting processed foods and refined sugar.
Like any other diet, it should be done in moderation and not for long periods.
Did it work?
It did, I some weight pretty quickly but then hit a plateau, so I looked into using some supplements.
When I reached a plateau (sometime around 2 months), I did some research on fat burners to go with the diet and settled with the Instant Knockout.
Anyway, let’s move on to my favorite low-carb salads.
3 of my favorite simple low-carb salads
1. Asparagus salad
- ¼ c lemon juice
- ¼ c olive oil- 20 black olives, chopped
- 1/3 c fresh mint, chopped
- 1½ pounds asparagus, steamed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- garnish: crumbled Swiss style vegan cheese
The first step is to whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and mint together an then toss in the remaining ingredients. Top with Swiss style vegan cheese and serve chilled. It results in 6 salad servings.
2. Gazpacho Salad Mold with Egg-less Mayonnaise
- 4 cups Tomato juice
- 1 tsp mixed vegetable spice
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 4 tbs Agar flakes
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
In a saucepan over medium heat, mix the tomato juice, salt and dries vegetable spice. In a separate pan, cook and mix the agar until it fully dissolves.
Then remove them from the stove and let them cool for 150 minutes.
Stir in chopped celery and cucumber and pour into 5-cup mold and refrigerate until chilled. Serve slices of plates with the base of a lettuce leaves and with a nice scoop of egg-less mayonnaise.
3. Chickpea cilantro salad
- 15 oz canned chickpeas
- half a lemon
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
- lemon zest from half a lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- One large tomato (seeded and diced)
- One whole garlic bulb
- 1-2 teaspoons dried cumin (depends how much you like)
- salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Roast the garlic on a pan until brown. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a glass bowl and add the garlic and mix well.
Good luck in the pursuit of your ideal body and wellness!