Following a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet has become a popular approach not only to manage weight but also in the management of various health conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and more recently cancer. However, with information coming from both sides of the Atlantic, people often get confused when counting carbohydrates: do I use “net” carbs or should I just use “total” carbohydrates? In this blog we aim to demystify these approaches to help you get the most out of this way of eating.
Net Carbohydrates are based on the American Food labelling system where the fibre content is taken into account in the total carbohydrate content of a food item. In America, dietary fibre is (rightly) considered as part of the total carbohydrate content of the food item. The figure for Net Carbohydrates is used to differentiate between simple and complex carbohydrates, which have a direct impact on blood sugar levels, and dietary fibre whose effect on blood sugar levels is negligible.
If an item, in America, contains 5g of Total Carbohydrates, out of which 2g consist of Dietary Fibre, then the Net Carbohydrate content of this product is 3g.
Here in the UK Net Carbohydrates are already calculated within nutritional labels as simple/complex carbohydrates are one entity (Carbohydrate) and dietary fibre is separately labelled as Fibre. Hence there is no need to calculate Net Carbohydrate content for a product that follows EU labelling rules.
If an item, from an EU country, is said to contain 3g of Carbohydrate and 2g of Fibre. Then the amount of carbohydrates that will affect blood sugar levels is 3g.
There is no need to calculate net carbs in the UK as this process is in-built in the labelling system.
Therefore, if you are based in the UK and following a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet, you do not need to count net carbs as this has already been done for you :)
Diabetes is a growing health problem. Diabetes is not only linked to being overweight - anyone can develop diabetes. There is also a lot of confusion on what we should and should not eat for preventing and managing diabetes. In this blog, we will show why managing your blood sugar intake through food will not only help as a prevention method, but also help to manage diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) better.
When people hear the word low-carb, they instantly think Atkins diet – high fat, very low to no carbs. This confusion should be excused because the media rarely differentiate between low-carb and no-carb diets and even health professionals are frequently confused.
The common misconception that if a diet is low in carbohydrates than automatically it will be low in fibre and low in micronutrients which are essential for daily living. This however is not true. A quick glimpse at a low-carb meal plan one can see that it is balanced, natural, low in trans-fat, low in sugar and low in salt. It also provides omega 3 and 6, and essential amino acids. It is full of food containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, as well as fibre.
So, what advantages are there to following a low carb ketogenic diet for diabetes management?
1. Research shows that this way of eating is beneficial and is an effective method to help manage and prevent diabetes. (please see references below)
A number of dietary intervention studies have compared the effect of carbohydrate restriction (minimising the amount of sugars and starches in one's diet) and its effect on blood sugar levels when compared to a low fat low calorie diet - the standard dietary prescription for diabetic individuals. In all these studies, carbohydrate restriction came out as the clear winner showing it to be the more effective dietary treatment for the management of diabetes.
In the UK, the SIGN (2010) guidelines have now acknowledged the safe use of low carbohydrate diets for the treatment of diabetes in the short term. Whilst in 2013 the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recognised that carbohydrate restriction is indeed a viable therapy for the management of diabetes
The key points of these studies include:
A low carbohydrate lifestyle dramatically lowers both fasting blood glucose levels and glycosylated haemoglobin levels (HbA1c).
A low carbohydrate lifestyle can offer a reduction in, or complete elimination of, all types of anti-diabetic medications.
Individuals with diabetes experienced a greater overall improvement in Quality of Life (QOL) following a low carbohydrate lifestyle.
It lowers inflammation levels in individuals suffering from diabetes.
2. Research has also shown that this way of eating can help with losing and managing weight.
Insulin is extremely good at instructing our fat cells to store energy and to not release it. So how do you get your body to use its fat stores for energy?
The answer to this is keep insulin spikes to a minimum. Low levels of insulin in the blood will allow other metabolic hormones such as glucagon to instruct the fat cells to release stored fat for energy. In doing so, your body will switch to using mainly the energy being released from your fat stores. This process is known as dietary ketosis, and it is via dietary ketosis that you are ensuring that your body is using stored body fat for fuel whilst preserving muscle mass.
3. This way of eating is an efficient (and tasty!) way of meeting your vitamin and mineral requirements as it is based on real foods which are naturally nutrient dense.
A well formulated ketogenic meal plan, one can notice that it is balanced, natural and low in sugar. It also provides omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as essential amino acids. It is full of food containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and most importantly dietary fibre to ensure minimal blood sugar spikes in the progress and optimal gut health as well.
4. A low carb ketogenic way of eating is a lifestyle and not a quick fix. Change your habits and you’ll start seeing the benefits.
Start by looking at the items in your shopping basket. Processed foods are very easily digested and do not require a lot of effort whilst green vegetables, nuts and meat require a lot more energy to be properly digested and generally provide much better amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, both for your body but also for your gut bacteria.
Hence, base your meal choices around dietary fibre options such as lovely green vegetables and berries for those mighty antioxidants. Choose full fat dairy options as these contain fat-soluble vitamins that our body needs for optimal function.
Stay away from items that say low in sugar and low in fat, these will have artificial additives added to them and have little to no nutrient content. Base your food choices on quality rather than quantity.
How can Natural Ketosis help?
The Natural Ketosis way of doing things is quite simple. We promote a low-carb, high-protein, moderate-fat diet. Although we are in the same school of thought as Atkins, our approach to diet and lifestyle is different.
On our program we embrace those carbohydrates that are based on dietary fibre rather than simple and/or complex sugars. The difference between these types of carbohydrates is the way they are digested within the body. By choosing these vegetables and fruits, the essential micronutrient requirements are met whilst ensuring no blood sugar spikes in the progress which will in turn help reduce cravings in between meals for sugary items.
The Natural Ketosis way is not only about being healthy and making the right choices. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any further questions. We’ll answer any questions you have and help you make an informed decision.
Rossi M, Turati F, Lagiou P, Trichopoulos D, Augustin LS, La Vecchia C, Trichopoulou A .2013. Mediterranean diet and glycaemic load in relation to incidence of type 2 diabetes: results from the Greek cohort of the population-based European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Diabetologia.56(11):2405-13
Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC: Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA 2007, 297(9):969-977.
Jenkins, D.J.A. et al., 2008. Effect of a low-glycemic index or a high-cereal fiber diet on type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association, 300(23), pp.2742–2753.
Guldbrand, H. et al., 2012. In type 2 diabetes, randomisation to advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet transiently improves glycaemic control compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet producing a similar weight loss. Diabetologia, 55(8), pp.2118–2127.
Yamada, Y. et al., 2014. A non-calorie-restricted low-carbohydrate diet is effective as an alternative therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes. Internal medicine , 53(1), pp.13–19.
Saslow, L.R. et al., 2014. A randomized pilot trial of a moderate carbohydrate diet compared to a very low carbohydrate diet in overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus or prediabetes. PloS one, 9(4), p.e91027.
Daly M.E, Paisey R, Millward B.A et al. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in type 2 diabetes-a randomized controlled trial. Diabetic Medicine, 2006, 23: 15-20.
Dyson P.A., Beatty S., & Matthews D.R. A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Diabetic Medicine, 2007, 24: 1430-1435.
Boden G, Sargrad K, Homko C, Mozzoli M, Stein TP. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2005, 142: 403–411
Jonasson, L. et al., 2014. Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favourable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet. Annals of medicine, 46(3), pp.182–187.
Feinman, R., Pogozelski, W., Astrup, A., Bernstein, R., Fine, E., Westman, E., Accurso, A., Frassetto, L., Gower, B., McFarlane, S., Nielsen, J., Krarup, T., Saslow, L., Roth, K., Vernon, M., Volek, J., Wilshire, G., Dahlqvist, A., Sundberg, R., Childers, A., Morrison, K., Manninen, A., Dashti, H., Wood, R., Wortman, J. and Worm, N. (2015). Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition, 31(1), pp.1-13.
Everyone is in a rush. Whether it is running to get to work on time, stuck in traffic trying to get the kids to school, even trying to squeeze that extra gym class so as to be more efficient. Let’s face it, we’re all stressed and there are not enough hours in the day to allow us to organise ourselves. So in the midst of all this, it is quite tempting to put nutrition bottom of your priority list and go for ready-made convenience foods.
To make it worse, there is plenty to choose from!
A trip to any supermarket outlet and you will see the ready-made meals section cover a vast portion of the establishment. The real food section on the other hand (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, etc) is quite small and in comparison there are not enough ongoing-offers to tempt you buying. After all, we are all out to get a bargain in the end. So, after a stressful day, the last thing the majority of us want is to be stressed about our evening meal. All we want is nice, tasty food - is that too much to ask?
Processed Food - read the label
Unfortunately, the majority of processed food out there is full of ingredients your body simply does not need. In fact, if you are struggling to lose that stubborn body fat, even though you are spending hours at the gym, the most probable cause is because you are not fuelling your body correctly.
Moving away from processed food is always a plus and your body will definitely thank you for it. To change your body, both inside and out, an optimum diet composed from real food is required.
Here at Natural Ketosis we understand the relationship between real food and the impact this has on our body, on our weight and our health. Our products are unlike any other pre-prepared meals out there. All our meals are pressure cooked and vacuum sealed - you will not find any artificial preservatives or flavourings in our meals. So if you are struggling with providing your body with the proper nutrition to help you lose weight and keep it off, because you simply do not have the time, then Natural Ketosis will certainly deliver not only on taste but also on results.
We believe about making the right food choices and being able to navigate the confusing food environment we live in. We are happy to help. So if you have any further questions or would like to know how switching your diet can help you achieve your goals, then please do get in touch with us and we’ll be more than happy to help.
Welcome to The Natural Ketosis Company’s blog. We are fed up with the abundance of weight loss myths and miracle solutions that constantly appear in the press. Therefore, we have decided to expose the ridiculous claims that are prevalent in the diet industry and, hopefully in a humorous way, give you our honest opinion about them. We love to hear your opinions so please do not be afraid to comment!