Many popular diets promote low carbohydrates. Some of them have been very famous with best-selling books and supplements, which have made their promoters rich. These diets have been around since at least 1864, resurrected time and again and foisted on a gullible public. Atkins, South Beach, The Zone and other similar diets claim that the scientific world is deceived and suggest that well-controlled studies can be ignored.
Should we avoid carbs to reduce weight? Well controlled scientific studies have repeatedly found that though there is some initial weight loss that occurs on a high-fat, animal-based, low carb diet, it turns out that it is mostly water weight. But they also found that the same diet, which is mostly composed of meat, cheese, butter, etc., is often associated with other consequences that significantly damage overall health.
In spite of claims by its promoters that a low carb diet would decrease insulin, insulin levels actually increase as much or more on a low carb diet. A diet founded on carbohydrates, combined with walking an average of
15-30 minutes a day resulted in significant reductions in body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides along with drops in baseline insulin levels as well, which is exactly the opposite of what low carb promoters predict. In just three weeks on a vegetarian diet of unrefined carbohydrates and a few minutes of daily walking, diabetics reduced the amount of insulin needed. General vegetarians may have half the insulin levels of non-vegetarians even at the same weight.
The low carb, high-fat diets induce a state of ketosis, which causes many conditions that are harmful to general health. Symptoms of ketosis include general tiredness, abrupt or gradually increasing weakness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, abdominal pain, irritability, nausea and vomiting, sleep problems and bad breath. Those in ketosis also often suffer headaches, muscle cramps and diarrhea, which is consistent with a carbohydrate deficiency. They simply do not get enough carbohydrates to supply the tissues with blood sugar and the organs start to malfunction. Some on low carb diets suffer hair loss. They often have insufficient energy to continue normal activity after the third day on the diet. The fatigue and other symptoms promptly disappear with the addition of carbohydrates to the diet.
Another concern with low carb, high meat intake is uric acid levels. Those on a meat-centred diet might push uric acid levels so high that it could start crystallizing in the joints, triggering gout, an excruciating and debilitating arthritic condition. This has even been documented in some cases. Research has shown that each additional serving of meat has been associated with a 21 percent increase in the risk of gout.
The best diet to provide sufficient energy, and prevent other symptoms of ill health is a plant-based diet built on complex (unrefined) carbohydrates, low fat, combined with a daily dose of exercise.
Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the best diet to maintain general health. These foods, prepared in as simple and unrefined a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigour of intellect, that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet. Combined with a daily dose of exercise significant weight loss can be achieved in a reasonable time.