Low carbohydrate diets became popular in the 1970s when Dr. Robert Atkins published his book Diet Revolution based on years of research in his cardiology practice. Today the diet is used mainly for weight loss and to control blood sugar in people dealing with diabetes and other related conditions. In this diet, foods higher in protein and fiber are ranked lower on the glycemic index than foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. For weight loss, the restriction of carbohydrates (sugars and starches) puts the body in a metabolic state called ketosis which facilitates fat burning. For blood sugar control, consuming low carbohydrate foods reduces insulin production.
People sticking to a low-carb, low-sugar diet mainly eat protein (meat), low-starch vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruits (berries, citrus, stone fruits). They avoid all processed foods and all grains, white potatoes and all processed sugars (cane, corn, beet, etc.) They are able to consume in moderation some starchy vegetables and dairy items.
Although the Atkins diet has been shown to deliver weight loss, many experts believe that a diet so high in animal fats is not in keeping with overall good health. For example, the diet reduces insulin resistance (the body's inability to respond properly to insulin) and raises "good" (HDL) cholesterol, but has little impact on "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. As a result, a vegetarian version, coined “Eco-Atkins”, has been developed that eliminates the protein from meat and replaces it with a lower-calorie, vegetarian or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet with protein coming from gluten, soy, and other plant proteins.
Why this matters:
Although the focus on low carb products, which contributed over $485 million to the natural foods industry in back in 2004, has passed, the science behind low carb diets has shown that it works and consumers are now much more knowledgeable about how carbohydrates affect their body. There are still popular low-carb products found on most health food