Here’s Why Low-Carb Diets are So Effective (and Popular)

It seems like there’s a new fad diet every few years that people are eager to hop on the bandwagon for. But just as quickly as they come, they disappear—most of them anyway. There are a few that stick around, and they all have something very important in common. Atkins, the South Beach Diet, Paleo, Whole30 and Keto are all low-carb diets.

There’s a reason low-carb diets tend to become popular and stay popular: Because they work! The merits of low-carb dieting are widely proven. And, they’re extremely easy to follow. Instead of counting calories and starving yourself, the name of the game is avoiding carbohydrates.

Let’s take a look at how low-carb diets work, why they work, why they’re so popular and what the benefits of being on one are.

How low-carb eating works

Every low-carb diet has the same principle: Stay away from carbohydrates. Instead, the major makeup of these diets are proteins and healthy fats. This sets the stage for metabolic change.

Generally, our bodies burn carbohydrates for energy. But, when we eat fewer carbs, our bodies need to adapt. We enter a metabolic state called ketosis, where the body begins to burn fats for energy. This usually happens when we consume less than 50g of carbohydrates in a 24-hour period. It can be a bit of a shock to the system at first, but the body is resilient and quick to adapt.

Why low-carb dieting works

The longer you stay on a low-carb diet, the more adept your body becomes at sustaining ketosis. Eventually, your body will not only burn the fats in your diet, it’ll also begin burning fat stores, leading to weight loss. At the same time, your body is also going to burn off excess glycogen, which is primarily responsible for holding water weight. It’s a weight loss double-whammy!

Despite burning fat for energy, protein is actually the secret weapon in the low-carb diet. Protein plays an important role in satiation. Eating protein leads to a feeling of fullness with fewer total calories, which helps tip the “fewer calories in, more calories out” equation in your favor. Plus, protein keeps you feeling satisfied for longer.

Protein also has a higher thermogenesis than fats or carbs—meaning the body works harder to digest protein, thus burning more energy and expediting weight loss. 

The metabolic switch to ketosis your body makes will have immediate effects (loss of water weight) and continuous long-term benefits (weight loss, energy). Whether you’re on Atkins, Paleo, Keto or one of the other low-carb diets, chances are you’re seeing results. And, people stick to diets when they see results!

Benefits beyond weight loss

People love low-carb diets because they show proven weight loss. But there’s so much more to love about the effects they have on your body:

  • Low-carb diets are actually great for heart health. Intaking fewer carbs will push your triglyceride levels way down and raise your High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
  • Entering ketosis helps the body control its glycemic index, which is great for people living with Type 2 diabetes. Avoiding high-carb foods also means avoiding complex sugars that can drive up insulin levels.
  • Low-carb diets have been widely studied for their relation to lower blood pressure. Not only does cutting carbs help lower blood pressure, it can lower a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
  • People report generally feeling better when eating low-carb. More energy, improved mental focus and clarity, and better mood are all associated with a low-carb diet. This is consistent with findings that low-carb eating can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome.

All of these benefits add up to one big idea that resonates with low-carb dieters: They’re healthier. The scale shows them a number that’s getting lower every day. They’re focused and have more energy. Their annual checkups go better. All around, they look, feel and are healthier!

While some fad diets come and go, diets rooted in the low-carb philosophy have stayed because they’re proven. More importantly, they’re easy to follow and deliver measurable results. They’re effective and popular, and that makes them a viable option for anyone who not only wants to lose weight, but live a generally healthier life.