The low carb diet was first made popular by Dr. Robert Atkins in the 1970s, then became popular once again over 30 years later. It has since fallen out of popularity, but the next diet trend has not yet come along to replace it.
Low carb diets are based on the theory that restricting the amount of carbohydrates you eat will cause your body to burn fat to obtain the energy it needs.
When we eat, our bodies convert digestible carbohydrates into blood sugar (glucose), our main source of energy, which is stored in our liver as glycogen. When we greatly restrict our intake of carbohydrates, to the point where our liver's store of glycogen is depleted and our bodies do not find the usual source of energy readily available, they turn to our fat stores.
Through a process called ketosis, our body fat is "burned" or turned into fuel to provide the energy we need. Our bodies run on ketones instead of blood sugar.
It is important to note that if you stray from a low carb diet plan and eat more carbohydrates than the plan allows, it may interfere with the process of ketosis and render the diet ineffective. When confronted with such failures, representatives of low carb diet plans have responded that the dieters are in effect not on the diet plan at all and thus it cannot be said that the diet plan failed.
Because some carbohydrates are either not digested and simply pass through the body, or are digested but have little impact on blood sugar, some low carb diet plans suggest counting "net carbs" rather than total carbohydrates. Net carbs are calculated by subtracting the carbohydrates that do not affect our blood sugar level (fiber, glycerin, and sugar alcohols) from total carbohydrates.
When available, manufacturer data for net carbs appears in our food lists in [brackets] following the item description.
There is much debate over the long-term effects of low carb diets on your health. While they restrict consumption of carbohydrates, they allow generous consumption of animal protein and fat which have been associated with heart disease and other maladies.
Equally important, many of the foods that low carb diets exclude or greatly restrict have been associated with good health.