5 Ways All Low-Carb Diets Are Alike

Understanding the similarites of Atkins, South Beach, Zone and others

Fresh organic spinach over table with knife and kitchen towel.
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Low-carb diets are all the rage, but understanding the basics of how they work is key to, first, choosing the right one for you, and second, to sticking to the diet you choose. There are general rules which can be applied to nearly all the low-carb diets, such as Atkins, South Beach, Protein Power, Sugar Busters, Zone, and other reduced carbohydrate diets.

Here we offer up insight for low-carb diet misconceptions.

While you may be looking to lose weight, control diabetes, or cut out added sugar, low-carb diets can be a viable option to eating healthier than you have been in the past. Here's how low-carb diets work and what you can expect as you prepare to adopt one.

All Low-Carb Diets Promote Whole Foods

There are snack bars and box meals for every diet plan, and low-carb diets are no different. The Atkins bars and South Beach Diet prepackaged meals are just a few examples, but the crux of many of the popular low-carb diets is eating whole foods, such as non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Sure Atkins promotes eating meat, but they all call for getting carbs from plants for the nutritional value and fiber that vegetables and fruits have to offer.

All Low-Carb Diets Limit Both Added and Naturally-Occurring Sugars

Low-carb diets consider all sugars when it comes to counting carbs. That is, sugar from whole fruits is in the same boat of carb consideration as table sugar.

Because the goal of counting carbs is to ensure that you are not exceeding an amount that will spike your blood sugar levels, all sources of sugar are counted. This may go against how people understand what sugar is, but your tongue and body know that a sweet piece of fruit can give you a sugar boost without any sugar in sight.

While oranges and pears don't have nutrition labels, you can easily find nutrition facts of fruits and vegetables at Calorie Count Plus if you're counting carbs.

All Low-Carb Diets Aim for Insulin-Reduction

Switching the body's energy system is the goal of nearly all low-carb diets. The assumption is that eating fewer carbs will change your body's energy consumption toward the muscle and fat you are looking to get rid of. It is scientifically proven that when the body does not have glucose stores from food, it will create glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Low-carb diet experts say this change in the process helps people lose weight and keeps their blood sugar levels balanced. 

All Low-Carb Diets Focus on Fiber

Because low-carb diets call for counting carbs, you may not realize that you are also counting, or shall we say subtracting, fiber. Many foods that are approved for low-carb diets have a net zero carb count. This only occurs in foods that have a considerable amount of fiber.

Therefore, many low-carb diet plans are full of foods that are high in fiber.

All Low-Carb Diets Don't Count Calories

While calories do count in terms of keeping weights balanced, low-carb diets do not count calories. They do, however, count grams—carbohydrate grams and fiber grams to be exact. They also usually involve portion control or measuring food, but calorie counts are usually left out of the question.

For more information about the basics of low-carb diets, see our Low-Carb Food Pyramid.

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