SolveYourProblem Article Series: Low Carb Diet
What Are The Benefits Of The Low Carb Diet?


The Zero Carb Diet, Does It Really Work?

The no carb diet was first described by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Canadian-born explorer who lived for some time with the Inuit people. During that time he followed their diet of 90% meat and fish, including fats. At some times of year it was virtually 100%. He found he was healthy on the Inuit diet.

Stefansson's parents were both from Iceland, so critics have suggested that he might have some genetic links to Inuit people or at least be genetically predisposed to thrive on the kind of high meat and fish diet that can be necessary in cold climates. However, other Western explorers went with him and also seemed to thrive on the diet when tested.

The no carb diet is basically an extremely low carb diet. It does include some vegetables. Of course, different people interpret it in different ways.

Some people consider that a diet is 'no carb' if it does not include foods that are in the carbohydrate section of the food pyramid. But this would still allow many foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as bananas and potatoes. So to call this a no carb diet seems a little bizarre.

More commonly, the term no carb diet is used to describe a fairly extreme version of the low carb diet popularized by Dr Robert Atkins and others.

Following this kind of no carb diet, a person would eat unlimited quantities of meat, fish, eggs and butter. Cheese would be limited and other dairy products would not be allowed. Vegetable oils might be allowed, since they contain no carbohydrates.

It is important to remember that some vegetables are included too, but only those that are lowest in carbohydrate content. Generally that means green leafy vegetables. Others, such as onions and broccoli, are higher in carbs.

Anybody wanting to follow this type of diet needs to keep certain things in mind. First, the Inuit that Stefansson lived with were eating wild, organically raised meat and fish. Chemical farming had hardly begun in the early 20th century, and certainly had not reached the polar regions. So you might need to try to find wild, organically raised meats today, such as organic grass fed beef. This comes expensive if it is the major part of your diet.

If instead you eat regular non-organic meat from the supermarket, you are likely to miss out on some nutrients while taking in hormones and chemicals that might make it harder for your body to survive on this type of diet. So if you want to do this, be prepared for the cost.

Second, the medical evidence for no carb diets is inconclusive. Some studies have found that cholesterol and fatty deposits in the arteries are actually reduced on this diet. Others have found that the heart has less energy and may be weakened by it.

It is important to be sure not to eat too much protein, because this is bad for the kidneys. A high proportion of daily calories should come from fat on the no carb diet. A low fat version would be dangerous.

At the same time it is vital to drink plenty of water. The rule is 8 x 12 oz glasses (or, of course, 12 x 8 oz glasses). Again there is a risk of kidney damage if there is not enough water flowing through the system.

The no carb diet is certainly interesting to read about. However, it is hard to assimilate into our everyday lives. Most people therefore prefer something like the Atkins diet or South Beach, which are both a little less extreme than the no carb diet.

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