Living Low-Carb is a weight-loss program that gives dieters tips for adopting a low-carbohydrate lifestyle and tailoring a low-carb diet to their needs and preferences. Throughout her book, Living Low-Carb: The Complete Guide to Long-Term Low-Carb Dieting, Fran McCullough addresses criticisms of a low-carb diet and offers “real-life” stories of people who have successfully made a low-carb diet part of their lives.
How Does the Low-Carb Diet Work?
The Living Low-Carb plan outlines an eating system designed to help people lose weight by reducing the amount of carbohydrates they consume.
The calories in the foods you eat come from a combination of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are found in starchy and sugary (both natural and refined sugar) foods, such as bread, pasta, sweets, fruits, and vegetables. Low-carb diets, which usually require people to choose high-protein foods, such as milk, eggs, and cheese, over high-carbohydrate foods, including fruits and grains, have become more popular in recent years and have been shown to help people lose weight.
In addition to teaching you how to eat, snack, attend parties, and dine out while on a low-carb diet, McCullough provides readers with 175 simple low-carb recipes.
A typical day on the diet might include:
- Fruit and cottage cheese for breakfast
- A green salad with chicken for lunch
- Fruits, vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, seeds, or other low-carb snacks throughout the day
- A burger without a bun for dinner
- A low-carb after-dinner treat, like raspberries with chocolate
Living Low-Carb: Pros of the Diet
Some of the positive aspects of the diet are:
Low-carb diets can work. Studies have shown that a low-carb diet can be more effective in helping you lose weight, especially when you first start dieting. And low-carb dieters’ cholesterol levels tend to improve while on the diet.
Most Americans need to cut back on processed grains. “The problem really with grain foods is just that people are eating too many processed grains,” says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Processed grains include foods like sweet baked goods, white bread, white pasta, and white rice.
Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and author of Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits and Inspirations, agrees that people who eat too many carbohydrates are likely to gain weight. “Excess carbohydrates — excess anything — is going to mean excess calories,” she says. And that adds up to excess pounds.
Living Low-Carb: Cons of the Diet
Living Low-Carb, like many popular diets, has certain potential drawbacks:
Advocating going into ketosis. Ketosis is a condition in which there is a build-up of ketones, byproducts of fat metabolism, in your blood. McCullough says that for people who need to lose weight, it is ideal to be in ketosis. But Giancoli disagrees: “Ketosis is not ideal — it is a survival mechanism that the body goes into when deprived of carbohydrates.” Giancoli says that when you are in ketosis, your metabolism slows, you lose muscle tissue, your body loses minerals in the blood, and your brain doesn’t work as well as it should.
Uncomfortable side effects. Eating too few carbohydrates has the potential to leave you feeling miserable, since low-carb eating can cause you to become constipated, nauseous, weak, and fatigued. Other side effects may include diarrhea, bad breath, headaches, or sleeping problems.
Cutting out healthful foods. In addition to refined carbohydrates, the Living Low-Carb diet limits some healthful foods, including milk and high-carb fruits and vegetables like bananas and potatoes. Tallmadge recommends steering clear of diets that make people afraid of eating healthful foods for fear of gaining weight. “You should be able to eat all of the fruits and vegetables you want and still be able to lose weight,” Tallmadge says.
Risk of nutrient deficiency. When you limit the amount of fruits and whole grains you are eating, you may not be getting all of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need. Ask your doctor to recommend a multivitamin and a fiber supplement while you are on a low-carb diet.
Living Low-Carb might be worth trying if you want to lose weight and cut down on carbs. Giancoli says that a low-carb diet can be healthful and balanced “as long as people are choosing lean protein, incorporating some whole grains, and are consuming some fruits and vegetables.”