To understand the difference between low carbohydrate diets and a low glycemic diet, we first need to understand how carbohydrates work in our bodies. During digestion of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, vegetables, and sweets, your body converts carbohydrates into sugar. The insulin level in your body rises as your blood sugar does, and that insulin forces blood sugar into your cells and thus provides energy for your body.
The remaining sugar is stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. Both low carbohydrate and low glycemic diets center around the restriction of carbohydrates to lower your blood sugar, but the low glycemic diet encourages the consumption of complex carbohydrates where the low carbohydrate diet restricts the consumption of any carbohydrate.
Since diets such as the Atkins and the Zone diet restrict the amount of all carbohydrates that you eat, you are naturally limited to choices of foods you eat. And because you eat fewer types of foods, you might also consume fewer calories. Since you are not consuming carbohydrates, the energy you burn will come from stored fat and not sugar, therefor weight loss will occur. The weight loss success behind a low carb diet is that if you burn stored fat instead of sugar, you limit the amount of carbohydrates that you eat.
A low glycemic diet is based on the glycemic index and glycemic load numbers. On this diet you will choose to eat the type of carbohydrates that cause your blood sugar to rise very slowly. Foods with a low glycemic number will not cause a spike in your blood sugar and thus will help you keep your energy high and your cravings low. On a low glycemic index diet, you will avoid "white foods" such as white flour, white rice, white potatoes.Higher glycemic numbers are associated with foods that are highly processed as well.
Foods with a lower glycemic index number are whole grains including whole grain bread, vegetables, nuts, dairy products, fish, poultry, meats, and eggs. You can trade higher glycemic foods for lower glycemic index foods. Eating the low glycemic way is not simply a weight loss plan, but a healthy eating strategy for optimal long term health.
So what kinds of foods are generally in a low carbohydrate diets? An attribute of this diet is that you will feel full longer after eating, since fat and protein take longer to digest. Meat, poultry, eggs and fish are highlighted in these diets. Some low-carb diet plans allow between 50 and 150 grams of carbohydrates including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Be careful though --- if you choose saturated fat foods instead of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats --- your cholesterol levels may rise. You may encounter constipation if you limit the fruits, vegetables and whole grains you eat. Weight loss in the first week or so on this diet is not unusual, but keep in mind that much of the weight lost will be water weight, since fats and proteins will act as a diuretic. Many people also will see weight gain when they resume their "normal diet".
The key to finding the diet right for you will depend on a number of factors. You will be the most successful on a diet that will be the easiest to maintain based on your personal preferences. Purchasing, preparing, and eating the right foods is essential to the success of any diet. The diet you choose should be one that will provide the best long term benefit for your health and well being!