Explained: Low carbohydrate diets

Explained: Low carbohydrate diets

Considering going on a low carbohydrate diet? BBC Good Food Middle East looks at the pros and cons of carbohydrates…

Carbohydrates explained

Carbohydrates play a key role in our diets, providing energy for the body. There are two main types – simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates tend to cause the most problems in the modern diet (including white bread, sweets, pastries and biscuits) and when eaten too frequently can cause excessive sugar highs and lows due to their impact on insulin in the body. In contrast, complex carbohydrates contain a greater number of bonds and therefore take longer for the body to digest, providing a stable release of energy for the body. These include foods such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, rye and barley.

Some research suggests that a diet high in simple carbohydrates can cause blood sugar problems, such diets have been associated with diabetes, heart disease risk and some types of cancer.

Low carb diets and weight loss

Experts recommend consuming 260g of carbohydrates a day as part of a balanced diet, however those on a low carbohydrate diet usually try to consume less than 50g per day.

The main reason those losing weight try to stick to less than 50g of carbohydrates is because of process called ketosis. Ketones are created when the body has used up its supply of glycogen (from carbohydrates) causing the body to burn fat as fuel, leading to weight loss

An accidental by-product of a low carbohydrate diet can often be under consumption of fibre. There can be other side effects too, so it is important to speak to a health professional if you are considering changing your diet.

Ten low carb recipes to try

Gentlemen’s relish and scrambled eggs

Chicken, broccoli and beetroot salad with avocado pesto

Polenta mushroom tart

Garlic beef

Thai chicken and mushroom broth

Greek salad omelette

Tandoori chicken

Steamed fish pak choi parcels

Goan mussels

Chicken Marengo