Gourmet Foods 101
Did you know?
"Lemons contain more sugar than strawberries"

Low Carb Foods

When Carbohydrates Just Won't Do

To properly understand what low carb (carbohydrate) foods are, we must really understand what a carbohydrate is and what it does. Carbohydrates are chemical compounds that act as the main biological means of storing or consuming your energy, with other forms being fat and protein. Relatively complex carbohydrates are known as polysaccharides. Carbohydrates are produced naturally by plants and animals. Sugars and starches are carbohydrates.

Low carb foods became very popular a few years ago as research tied carbohydrate consumption with increased blood insulin levels and increased insulin with obesity. It was thought that low carb foods would lead to people using and burning off their fat storage for energy instead of carbohydrates. This would in turn lead to weight and fat loss. Under these various diets, foods containing carbohydrates such as sugar, grains, and starches, are limited or replaced by foods that contain more protein and fat. Vegetables, which are classified as carbohydrates, are thought to be healthier than grain based carbohydrates. These diets are claimed to work because they reduce the body's insulin levels, which in turn causes the body to burn off its fat for energy. The success of these diets is very debatable and what works for one person may not work for another.

It can sometimes get confusing as to which source or sources of carbohydrates should be consumed and which ones shouldn't be. It is generally agreed that processed sugar should be either cut out or at greatly reduced. However, dieticians' opinions often differ on the recommended levels of grains, fruits and vegetables we should eat, though it is generally agreed that vegetables are better for you than fruit, but fruit is better than grains.

When the low carb craze hit North America, it didn't take the food industry long to get into the act. Consumer demand for low carb foods led the food industry to develop and market a wide variety of low carb products. Restaurants started offering low carb menus. These items generally replace carbohydrate laden wheat flour with high protein soy flour and replace sugar with artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and sugar alcohols.

Since there is such an assortment of low carb foods on the market such as cookies, chocolates, drinks, desserts, snacks, pastas, etc., it is very easy to find low carb versions of your favorite foods. You must remember though, that a food that is labeled as low carb isn't necessarily healthy for you. Many food manufacturers are making low carb foods not to help you lose weight, but to make money. However, if you are considering trying a low carb diet, you may want to consult your doctor first.