A low-carb diet dramatically improves your blood sugar control and the function of your blood sugar hormone insulin. After you eat a meal, insulin’s job is to get the sugars from your bloodstream into your cells. The more overweight or out of shape you are, the greater the amount of insulin your body produces to get the job done. This leads to higher insulin levels in the blood, which directly blocks your capacity to burn fat via the hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) enzyme. This person would be called insulin insensitive and if the condition persisted they would eventually become insulin resistant and develop type-II diabetes.
How does this relate to carbohydrates? Carbohydrates exert the greatest impact on your insulin output, therefore by reducing your carb intake (and increasing your consumption of healthy proteins and fats) you’ll improve your body’s insulin sensitivity or efficiency at shuttling the food you eat into your cells where it can be used for energy.
A recent meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition of 1,400 people adopting a very low-carb diet showed significant reductions in bodyweight, as well as lower triglycerides and improved good HDL cholesterol. Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine of 322 obese patients revealed that the low-carb group on an unrestricted calorie diet lost more weight than subjects on a calorie-restricted low fat diet, or a Mediterranean diet. The beauty of a low-carb diet for weight loss is that you don’t have to bother counting calories and you’ll still see results.
It’s not just the hormone insulin contributing to all the positive outcomes. Low-carb diets increase your body’s satiety signals via the increase in protein consumption and improved efficiency of the satiety hormone leptin. Low-carb diets also trigger greater lipolysis – the breakdown of body-fat – as your body shifts to burning fat as a primary fuel source. There is also an increase in the metabolic cost of producing glucose (gluconeogenesis) when on a low-carb diet, which requires your body to burn more energy and translates into a slimmer waistline and better health for clients.