What is a Low-Carbohydrate Diet?
A low-Carbohydrate, Diet (LC) is an eating ppattern which enables efficient catabolism of lipids in the body. In other words, this diet promotes fat breakdown and the use of fat as the body’s primary energy source.
This is in contrast to The Standard American Diet (SAD), which favors glycolytic metabolism or the use of sugar as the primary energy source for the body.
There is a large volume of scientific evidence demonstrating the benefits of using fat rather than carbohydrates as the primary energy source. Most of these benefits come from the fact that fat is a much cleaner and a much more sustainable fuel source.
Because of the way that the body prioritizes macro-nutrients, this optimal lipolytic state can only be achieved with carbohydrate restriction.
How much carbohydrate restriction is necessary?
When first transitioning from the SAD the LC, the body is metabolically inflexible and does not have the enzymes, (the machinery) required to start burning fat. Therefore, carbohydrates must be strictly and significantly restricted in order to force the body to start producing the enzymes necessary for lipolysis.
With time, the body will up-regulate lipolytic processes and metabolic flexibility can be maintained with a slightly higher carbohydrate load.
How long should a Low Carbohydratediet be maintained?
the LC should be considered in the same context as The Standard American Diet (SAD). As in, it is not a temporary fad, detox or weight loss diet; it is a lifestyle with an extensive amount of supporting research. This does not mean that high carbohydrate foods must be forever avoided — after all, people following the SAD diet do sometimes eat a healthy low carbohydrate meal. Likewise, science suggests that a LCLD is optimal for longevity, but an occasional high carbohydrate meal is not detrimental.
What is the difference of the LC and a Ketogenic diet?
The biggest difference between a Ketogenic Diet (KD) and a LC is the focus and duration.
While ketogenesis (the production of ketones in the liver) will occur anytime blood glucose is low, it is just one component of carbohydrate restriction. Before ketone bodies are synthesized, lipids must be broken down, as they are the precursor to ketone bodies. While Ketone bodies serve as an important fuel source for the brain and red blood cells, as well as powerful messenger molecule, fat breakdown is what supplies the rest of the body with energy. Ketosis is therefore just one benefit of switching to a low-carbohydrate diet.
One could argue that KD is a misnomer as it does neglects the other benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet.
From a macronutrient and physiological perspective the difference between the two diets is minimal if not negligible.