In addition to their role in providing energy, carbs also help regulate blood sugar, insulin metabolism and support cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism. When there is an overabundance of carbohydrates in the diet, these bodily functions can be thrown out of whack.
Dietary carbs can be divided into the following categories:
Simple carbs, such as soda and candy, which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar
Complex carbs, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which have a more gradual effect on blood sugars due to their fiber and nutrients
Fiber, the non-digestible part of complex carbs that supports gut health
Dietary guidelines recommend individuals fill 45-65% of their diet with carbohydrates, with a focus on having an optimal fiber intake and limiting simple carbs.
Low-carb diets typically provide around 20 to 130 grams of carbs per day and anywhere from less than 10% to 44% of calories from carbs. Some of the more popular low-carb diets include the following:
Ketogenic (Keto) Diet
Keto diets typically include 20 to 50 grams of carbs per day. “[This] diet gained attention in the early 20th century when physicians discovered the beneficial effects of carb restriction on the symptoms of epilepsy in children, therefore, these diets were used for the treatment of epilepsy,” says Alma Simmons, a registered dietitian nutritionist and maternal fetal medicine dietitian and diabetes educator at Ohio Health Hospital. “However, when people started realizing that low- carb diets could also help with weight loss, the popularity increased drastically,” she adds.
The goal of the keto diet is to induce ketosis. Typically, the body prefers carbs as its main fuel source, but when there aren’t enough carbs available, the body is forced to burn stored fat for energy. Ketosis is the name of this fat-burning process.
It’s important to note that a keto diet designed for an individual living with epilepsy is quite different from one designed for someone who does not have the condition. Most notably, individuals with epilepsy are routinely advised to go on a more restrictive, very high fat diet so their body goes into ketosis quickly.