What are the Basic Principles of Low Carbohydrate Diet?
Low 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 energy source.
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 fat.
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.
Ketosis 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.