Low calorie, low carbohydrate diets

I’m always reading about new weight loss diets. Should I avoid them because I have diabetes?

It depends on the eating plan that is being recommended. The most effective ways to lose weight healthily are to reduce the number of calories that you can and/or to burn calories through extra physical activity. Diets that provide extremely different amounts of the main food groups may not be suitable for you. If you think a particular eating plan might be for you, it may help to discuss it with your health professional.

Is it true that you can lose weight quickly by cutting out carbohydrates?

Diets such as the Atkin’s diet work by forcing your body to burn fat and muscle for energy. You can lose weight quickly but your body will replace the fat and muscle it has lost when you start casting normally again. This type of diet can be a “quick start” to losing weight, but cutting out carbohydrates deprives your body of its main energy source.

Is it safe for me to follow a very low carbohydrate diet?

If you take insulin or insulin-stimulating pills, a very low-carbohydrate diet may cause hypoglycemic attacks. Choosing healthy food options and generally reducing your calorie intake is the safest way to lose weight.

Can I replace one of my meals with a commercially prepared shake designed for dieters?

Although these shakes are designed to help you lose weight, changing your eating habits in the longer term is a more successful approach to weight loss. If you look at what foods you normally eat and then see where you can reduce excess calories, you can gradually adjust your food intake and maintain your lower weight more easily without the need for commercial products.

Is it safe to lose weight by missing a whole meal?

Eating regularly provides the energy that your body needs and helps keep your blood glucose within the recommended range. If you skip meals, you are likely to be hungrier by the time you do eat, and this may lead you to overeat and have an erratic blood glucose level.

If I eat more calories than I mean to, can I burn them off through physical activity?

Yes, although the exact amount of calories you burn depends on the intensity and duration of the activity you choose. Physical activity benefits you in two ways: it burns calories while you are doing the activity, and it raises your metabolic rate, so that your body burns more calories even when you are resting.

If I eat the same number of calories but am more active, will I lose weight?

Whether you lose weight or put it on depends on how well your energy intake (in other words, calories) is matched to how much energy you use. You may find that if you are more active than you were in the past, you can lose weight without altering your food intake. Whether you choose to count calories or not, your weight-loss plan will be more successful if you find a method that you are likely to be able to continue over the longer term.

Some diet plans suggest a number of portions of different types of foods. How does that relate to calories?

All weight-loss plans are based on a combination of food types and how many calories they contain. So a food plan based on portions means that the authors have already converted the calories for you, while trying to include foods that might help you feel less deprived. Choosing an eating plan that you can live with comfortably and therefore stick to in the long term is the most important factor for success.

Should I cut out carbohydrate or protein foods?

Even if you are eating less, you will need a variety of food types; excluding an entire type of food is not good for your health. Cutting out carbohydrate, your main source of energy, is particularly unhealthy because your body will deplete its own energy stores to compensate. You also need protein in order to stay healthy.

What is meant by “hidden calories” in food?

Some foods can be deceiving. For example, fruit juice is high in sugar, alcohol contains a lot of calories; and some sauces that accompany meals are high in fat.

How important is the size of the portions I eat at each meal?

A large portion of lower-calorie food may contain the same number of calories as a small amount of high-fat food. If you enjoy eating larger portions, lower-calorie foods will suit you. If you still want to eat higher-fat foods, you may need to reduce your portion size.

Cutting down on calories – you can make simple choices on an everyday basis that will cut calories and help you lose weight without denying yourself the foods you like.

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