At LivLife, we believe that the key to a happy and healthy life is all about balance! Fuelling your mind, body and soul with the things that make you feel good. Studies have shown that a low-carb diet can help your body feel light, energised and fulfilled while enjoying a wide range of foods.
Carbohydrates are essential for good health, but it’s easy to eat too many
Carbohydrates provide our main source of energy, taste delicious and make us feel good! When we eat carbs, our bodies break them down for energy immediately or store them in our muscles as glycogen for future use. Problems occur when we consume too many carbs (particularly refined carbs like cakes and biscuits!) or don’t use the energy they give us.
Once heralded as an amazing way to lose weight, studies now show that a low-carb diet offers a host of other benefits to our overall health and wellbeing.
Let’s delve into the reasons why.
1. It can help balance your blood sugar levels and manage diabetes
When we consume a meal with carbohydrates, it causes an increase in our blood sugar levels, which then requires our body to produce insulin to regulate them. Many people with diabetes follow a low-carb diet to help control their symptoms and reduce their reliance on medication. Whilst not a perfect all round solution for diabetics, many chose to follow a low-carb diet following personal recommendations from their dieticians.
A low-carb diet can also benefit those with Gestational Diabetes, which affects some women during pregnancy and specifically in previously non-diabetic women. For a more in depth look at GD, check out our guest blog with Jo Paterson.
For some people with type 2 diabetes, a low-carb diet is so effective that it can even resolve their symptoms completely. The research into the effects on type 1 diabetes is still emerging, but studies show that it can be beneficial.
Generally speaking, the weight loss that can come with a low-carb diet has the added benefit of reducing diabetes-related complications. It can also reduce the chance of someone at risk of developing diabetes from moving into the diabetic blood sugar range.
Getting advice from your GP and dietician is essential before changing your diet.
2. Reduced sugar cravings (Bye-bye, afternoon slump!)
It’s not just those with diabetes who can benefit from managing their blood sugar. The typical comfort foods that most of us enjoy are based on sugary, starchy carbs! Each time you eat a high-carb meal or snack, your blood sugar spikes quickly. But what goes up, must come down. Reducing these sugar spikes and the inevitable dips that follow results in more energy, better mood and reduced sugar cravings as your blood sugar levels stabilise. No more biscuit cravings at 3pm.
3. You’ll feel less bloated and have better digestion
Eating too many carb-heavy foods, particularly refined carbohydrates like white bread, cakes and pasta, can lead to feeling bloated and heavy. But why is this? The explanation is two-fold:
When you eat excess carbohydrates, your body stores them as glycogen for you to use when needed. The issue is that glycogen loves water! This extra water can make us feel heavy and our waistbands feel a little bit tighter. Combine this with the fact that refined carbs contain little fibre, and your digestive system can become sluggish and cause your tummy area to expand even more.
There’s also your gut health to consider! Your gut microbiome thrives on fresh, unprocessed foods. Diets high in sugar (carbs convert to glucose) help feed the ‘bad’ bacteria that can lead to imbalances causing everything from IBS to acne, and bloating to cramps.
4. It could improve your mental health
The gut is inextricably linked to the brain – that’s how phenomena such as tummy butterflies can be explained.
Because the gut is where our body makes most of its serotonin – the happy hormone – keeping it healthy and functioning well could increase serotonin levels and boost moods.
So look after the gut and you might just be doing wonders for your mind.
5. You’re more likely to enjoy a well-rounded diet
Western diets in particular tend to be carb-heavy; we eat an abundance of refined carbs like white bread, pasta and cakes for a quick energy boost to power our busy lifestyles!
When you reduce your carb intake, you’ll need to replace those calories with foods that will give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Some extreme low-carb diets focus on replacing carbs with high-fat foods, but this may not be the best in the long run or even feel like a sustainable lifestyle choice.
Instead, we suggest replacing those starchy, white carbs with an abundance of wholesome foods like lean meat, fish, eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds. You’ll soon notice the boost in your energy and vitality!
6. Managing heart health
People normally associate a low-fat diet with reducing the risk of heart disease and, of course, limiting our saturated fat intake is essential for heart health. However, studies have linked a low-carb diet to lowering triglycerides, the main fat-carrying particle in the bloodstream. One study has also shown that low-carb diets can boost levels of the protective HDL cholesterol.
A key caveat is that less-healthy carbs should be replaced with healthy fats and proteins that are low in saturated fats. Lean meats, olive oil and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are essential.
The weight loss that can occur when following a low-carb diet has a positive effect on blood pressure, another key factor in heart health.
It’s all about balance
A healthy low-carb diet focuses on choosing nutritious, wholesome carbohydrates rather than refined options like white flour and sugar.
We don’t believe that you should exclude entire food groups or follow a restrictive diet. Our LivLife bread is packed with linseed, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, making it high in protein and fibre. And in fact, it has half the carbohydrates of regular bread.
A life without bread would be miserable in our opinion – but it’s how we balance out eating it that counts!