Do low-carb diets work? A better question would be: What are you trying to accomplish with your low-carb diet?
If you're trying to lose weight fast, your low-carb diet can work to do that (especially if you cut bad carbs like sugars). But, just about any fad diet out there will help you do that. Cutting the carbs short-term can be an effective weight loss tool.
But, low-carb diets are hard to maintain because your body depends on carbs for energy, especially during intense exercise. So, its easy for low-carb dieters to "fall off the wagon" and begin to binge on carbs. And, the weight comes back on with a vengeance (yo-yo diet effect)!
A more effective method of eating carbs is to look at the glycemic index (GI) of the food item. Being aware of the GI of certain foods can help you control your body fat. It is a numerical index that ranks carbs based on their rate of glycemic response, or their conversion to glucose within the human body. The Index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose is the reference point and has a GI value of 100.
The GI of a food item is important because your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. When blood sugar drops too low, you become listless or experience increased hunger. If it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Although insulin will bring your blood sugar back down, it does so primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored body fat!
A food with a GI of 55 or below is considered low, with 70 or above considered high. For instance, here is the GI of certain foods:
White Bread, 70
Baked Potato, 85
The addition of other foods that contain fiber, protein or fat will generally reduce the GI of the meal. The rate of glycemic response varies from person to person. Also, your glycemic response might vary depending on the time of day. Get to know your body!
If you use GI as the only factor for determining your diet, you could end up overeating fat and total calories.