Does the LOW-CARB diet really work?

2 de maio de 2024

“I’ve decided to try the low-carb diet after blood tests showed changes in triglycerides and cholesterol. In 10 months, I lost 17 kg, and today, I no longer consider it a diet, but I’ve already adopted it as a lifestyle,” says Giovanni Bronca, 41, a Marketing Executive in London.

Like Giovanni, more and more people are jumping on the low-carb diet trend for fast weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. 

According to experts, most people can follow a low-carb diet without restriction. It also provides excellent results in patients with particular conditions like insulin resistance, diabetes, hormonal disorders (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), high cholesterol, and in patients with some types of cancer, obesity and metabolic syndrome.

 “It’s a strategy that, when well applied and carried out with the assistance of a qualified nutritionist, can bring great benefits to the patient,” explains nutritionist Carolina Capellari Simon. She has adopted a low-carb diet mainly due to her autoimmune disease and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition related to how a woman’s ovaries work. It affects about 1 in every 10 women in the UK. More than half of these women do not have any symptoms, such as irregular periods or no periods.

WHAT IS A LOW-CARB DIET?

Before following the low-carb diet, you should reconsider some old and traditional concepts like counting calories and buying light or diet products. For instance, eggs DO NOT cause a rise in cholesterol, and saturated fat will not clog your arteries. The fat of a hump stake, sausages and crunchy chicken skin are allowed. A glass of red wine a day is good for the heart and even helps the diet.

But as you can’t have it all, the low-carb diet, as the name suggests, requires a low consumption of carbohydrates. On the other hand, you’ll need to increase your consumption of protein and fat instead. 

“A diet rich in mainly monounsaturated fat is beneficial for hormonal production, which helps treat PCOS, for example. These are recent discoveries, but I can already feel the benefits of reducing carbohydrates,” says Carolina.

NO CALORIES COUNTING

Professor David Haslam, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum, explains, “It is very naive of the public and the medical profession to think that a calorie of bread, a calorie of meat and a calorie of alcohol have the same metabolic effects on the body”, reveals in the bestselling book Pioppi Diet, written by cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra and cameraman Donal O’Neil.

Calories from trans fat, for example, will increase the risk of a heart attack. However, the calories from omega-3 saturated fat will protect you from a heart attack.

“Calorie diets do not take into account the metabolic effect of each calorie in the body, nor how different sources of calories affect appetite control,” explains Dr Malhotra.

 ALLOWED FOODS

A low-carb diet allows some foods: meat, fish, poultry, green vegetables, eggs, cheese, and fruits (except grapes and bananas).

However, people should consume salami, sausage and smoked bacon in moderation. “Despite being sources of protein and fat, these industrialised foods have many preservatives, such as fumarate and nitrites, which are proven to cause cancer”, says Carolina.

FOODS TO AVOID

The foods that should be avoided are bread and everything made with flour, breakfast cereals, potatoes and all-white root vegetables, foods containing sugar, and sweets.