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The Science Behind the Fad Diet

  • 2/19/2017 8:07:00 PM
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The Science Behind the Fad Diet

Alexis Appelquist, Huffines Producer

   Everyone has that one friend who always seems to be attempting some new diet regiment. Maybe they’re doing a juice cleanse in order to detoxify their system, or trying to eat nothing but raw vegetables. Odds are they read about it in a magazine, saw it on a commercial, or have a distant relative-in-law that swears they took six inches off their waistline with this latest trend. Lately, you may have heard of going Paleo or the Whole30 or the Atkins diet, but what does any of that mean? In the past, dieting has conventionally meant reducing caloric intake, commonly by exercising portion control and cutting high fat foods out of the picture. However, studies are instead starting to point towards a diet low in carbs and higher in protein and healthy fats. This lifestyle change has shown to result in increased weight loss along with many other health benefits.

    How does it work? When consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet, the body breaks down those easily accessible sources of energy first. This leads to an elevated blood glucose level, prompting the production of insulin, a hormone that promotes the storage of excess nutrients in the form of fat. This can lock up these nutrients and lead the body to feelings of hunger and cravings. On the other hand, when low amounts of carbohydrates are consumed, the body must instead convert stored fat into fuel, switching to a state known as ketosis. Lower blood glucose results in the production of less insulin, making the fat stores more accessible and reducing the need to eat as much. High amounts of protein are consumed instead, which is also known to curb hunger. Weight loss is achieved through this combination of fat burning and reduced appetite. It is common to notice a large decrease in weight soon after the initial switch in diet. This is due mainly to loss of water weight, as sodium is shed when insulin is decreased and water bound to glycogen from carbohydrates is no longer present. Many people report feelings of fatigue in these first few days after the switch. This “low carb flu” can be partially attributed to dehydration as the body makes this transition. For this reason, it is particularly important to drink enough water and consume adequate amounts of sodium. Other health benefits reported on low carb diets include reduced LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, and elevated HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol.

     While there appear to be many positive effects of a low carb high fat diet, it is not always the healthiest choice for everyone. It is recommended to first speak with a doctor regarding your personal health and diet needs. As with any diet, effects may be reversed due to failure to maintain this particular eating regiment. 




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