8 Proven Health Benefits of Low Carb Diets
Low carb diets are here to stay. There is a reason that carbohydrate restricted diets have gained popularity over the last few decades - they work. If you needed a little push to reduce your carb intake, consider these eight proven health benefits of a low carb diet (and yes, weight loss is #1!).
1. Weight Loss
When you are trying to lose weight, study after study shows that a low carb diet works. In one such study, 132 participants with severe obesity were randomly assigned to either a low carb or calorie restricted low-fat diet. After six months, the low carb group lost an average of 12 pounds, while the low-fat group lost only four. The statistically significant difference was despite the calorie restrictions on the low-fat group. Low-carb diets are effective for weight loss.
2. Reduced Belly Fat
When you go low carb you don’t just lose weight, you lose belly fat. The visceral belly fat found deep in your abdomen is much more harmful than fat directly under your skin. Belly fat has been linked to heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, and even breast cancer. When you consume carbohydrates that contained high fructose corn syrup, like many breakfast cereals, breads, pastries, candy bars, and cookies, you are more likely to gain this harmful visceral belly fat. The good news is that studies have shown reducing carbs not only results in weight loss and total fat loss, it also leads to reduced belly fat.
3. More Protein
Low carb diets are typically higher in protein. Increased protein may be one of the reasons that a low carb diet is so effective for weight loss. Protein has been shown to help increase muscle mass, improve body composition, increase metabolism, and reduce appetite.
4. More (Good) Fat
Low carb diets are higher in fat than low calorie or low fat diets. Healthy fats, like the monounsaturated fats found in nuts, avocados and olive oil, medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil, and omega-3 essential fatty acids found in salmon, have significant health benefits. Healthy fats can help fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and help with weight loss.   
5. Less Hunger
Reducing carbohydrates leads to lower appetites and fewer calories consumed overall. A study of 50 overweight participants concluded that a low carb diet altered several hormones like leptin and ghrelin which influence appetite. The increased protein and healthy fats in a low carb diet may also help suppress appetite - both increase satiety, or the feeling of being full and satisfied after a meal.
6. Lower Insulin Levels
Insulin is a hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels and allows your body to use glucose from carbohydrates for energy. Insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, can occur when the body produces insulin but doesn’t use it properly. Obesity and belly fat are thought to be some of the primary causes of insulin resistance. High insulin levels from excessive sugar and carbs can lead to fat storage in the body, and low insulin levels can lead to increased fat burning. When you eat a low carb diet, your blood levels of insulin will decrease, reducing your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.
7. Reduced Blood Sugar
In a 12 week study comparing a low carb diet and a calorie restricted low fat diet, the low carb participants experienced a 12% decrease in blood glucose levels. High blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance, kidney damage, stroke, heart attack, a weakened immune system, and prediabetes. Eating low carb can help reduce your risk of developing one of these series conditions.
8. Improved Cholesterol
The same 12 week study also demonstrated improved HDL (high density-lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol) levels by 13% and improved total cholesterol by 14% in participants. HDL cholesterol is needed to remove LDL (low density-lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol) from arteries. Healthy cholesterol levels can help reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Choosing a low carb diet will not only result in proven weight loss, it will also offer additional health benefits that can help reduce your risk of some serious dangerous health conditions.