Lowcarbohydrate ketogenic diets

At one time, there was a vogue for low-carbohydrate diets for weight reduction. These were soundly based on the fact that fat and protein are more slowly digested and absorbed than carbohydrates and therefore have greater satiety value. At the same time, a severe restriction of carbohydrate intake would limit the intake of other foods as well — one argument was that without bread there was nothing on which to spread butter.

There is certainly a benefit in reducing the intake of carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index (section 4.2.2), as these lead to a larger insulin response, and hence result in more triacylglycerol synthesis in response to insulin than an equivalent amount of carbohydrate with a low glycaemic index.

Nowadays a low-carbohydrate diet would not be recommended for weight reduction, as the aim for general health promotion is to reduce the proportion of energy from fat and increase that from starches (section 7.3). Furthermore, storage of dietary fat in adipose tissue is metabolically more efficient than synthesis of triacylglycerol from carbohydrate (see sections 5.6.1 and 5.6.3), so that dietary fat will contribute more to adipose tissue reserves than will an equivalent amount of dietary carbohydrate. Nevertheless, to those raised in the belief that carbohydrates are fattening (as is any food in excess) it is a strange concept that weight reduction is helped by increased starch consumption.

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