carb diets are based on the principle that a
diet very low in carbohydrate leads to a reduction in the body's insulin
production, resulting in fat and protein (muscle) stores being used as its main
Typically the body
uses carbohydrates as its main energy source. Carbohydrates are broken down
into simple sugars during digestion. They are then absorbed into the
bloodstream. The glucose then enters the body's cells with the help of insulin.
Some of this glucose is used by the body for energy and the extra glucose is
stored in the liver, muscles and other cells for later use or is converted to
The aim of low carbohydrate diets is to force the
body to use fat as its main energy source. Insulin prevents fat breakdown in
the body by allowing sugar to be used for energy. Decreasing carbohydrate
intake results in lower insulin levels, which causes the body to burn stored
fat for energy.
is caused as a person produces 'ketone bodies' to fuel parts of the body that
cannot use fat as an energy source- the brain and red blood cells, in
particular. When this happens a person is said to be in a state of ketosis-
characterized by smelly breath (an acetone smell like nail varnish) and side
effects such as nausea and fatigue.