Sugar & carb-free diet

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Sugar & carb-free diet
Excluding sugar and carbs will limit your choices. (Lauren Burke/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you're looking to live a healthy lifestyle, or if you care about your appearance, you need to look after your diet. A sugar-free, carb-free diet can help. Your body's health depends on the food you consume, whether it is good for you or not. Eating a certain way can affect your weight, your health and even your energy levels. In a very literal sense, you are what you eat.

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Function

Diets are used to accomplish a variety of goals. You might try to alter your body composition, to burn fat for example, or you might attempt to eat better to improve your health or physical performance. However, the most common goal is to alter your weight; sometimes to bulk up, but usually to lose weight. According to the Weight-control Information Network, the recipe for weight loss or weight gain lies in the number of calories you consume, compared to the number of calories you burn throughout the day. Eat more than you burn, and you will gain weight; eat less and you will lose weight.

Theory

When weight loss is your goal, a sugar- and carb-free diet works because it eliminates some of the highest calorie options available to you. Refined carbohydrates such as sugar are simple carbohydrates, with a high glycaemic index. What this means is that they are easily converted to glucose in the body, where it will be stored as fat if it is not quickly used for energy. They are also low in nutrients and high in calories, making it hard to lose weight or burn fat while eating them.

Considerations

While these diets can be very effective, it may not be necessary to eliminate carbohydrates altogether. Complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice and wholegrain bread, take longer to convert into glucose in the body, meaning that you do not get the dramatic energy fluctuations or fat storage associated with simple carbohydrates such as sugar, white bread, white pasta or white rice. They are also typically lower in calories and higher in nutrients. Cutting out carbs altogether can prevent you from getting necessary nutrients from plant foods like fruits and vegetables.

Fat Burning

If burning fat is your main goal, a completely sugar- and carb-free diet is a good choice. By eating only protein and fat, you eliminate your body's carbohydrate stores that it normally prefers to use for energy. Your body will then have to use its fat stores for energy, leading to fast fat burning. This process is known as ketosis. You will still need to consume fewer calories than you burn; otherwise, the fat you eat will be stored as fat. The diet is effective because being in a state of ketosis can blunt feelings of hunger. You should still endeavour to eat relatively healthy protein and fat sources rather than binging on processed meats and saturated trans fats.

Performance

If you are looking to improve physical performance, avoid a carb-free diet. Your muscles will need carbohydrates to perform well. Immediately before or after physical exercise are among the only times where you should eat simple sugars, as the speed with which they can be processed and the quick energy surge they deliver is ideal beforehand, while after exercise they will help you refuel your muscles faster. However, stick to complex carbohydrates such as those found in fruits and vegetables at all other times.

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