The macronutrients we need to eat in a balanced diet (whatever that means!) are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. While most foods contain all of these macronutrients, the definition of carbohydrates is less clear, but generally includes all vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, pulses, starches and sugars.
At first glance most of these foods would seem to be health, so why do we want to do "low carb"?!
In my clinical practice I analyse peoples' diets and I see most people eating far too many "processed carbohydrates", which includes sugary foods and drinks, breads, grains, bakery foods, cereals, pasta, and alcohol. These products are all high in carbohydrates, but very low in real nutrients! Carbohydrates are NOT an "essential" nutrient, as our bodies can make them from other foods we eat. We have "essential" proteins (amino acids), and "essential" fats (the omega-3 and omega-6 fats) which we MUST have in our diets regularly, because our bodies cannot make them! But there are no essential carbohydrates!
Diets high in these processed carbohydrates can not only reduce the overall amount of nutrients you eat, but cause high blood sugar levels and a lot of inflammation in your body. It is the high blood sugar which causes most of the inflammation response, but also other "nutrients" and "anti-nutrients" in these high carb foods, such as gluten, lectins, phytates, preservatives, additives, agricultural chemicals, moulds and toxins, and more.
High levels of inflammation (which can be confirmed with pathology testing) are what causes most chronic health conditions we see today - weight gain and obesity, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer.
I also see people not getting enough protein in their diet, and not enough healthy fats! We need proteins for growth and repair, and for many other metabolic functions every day. We also need healthy fats to make our hormones, neurotransmitters, new cells, for energy, and much more! Processed carbohydrates seems to be in excess in most people, and this causes health issues... so a lower processed carb intake, with the reduced amount of processed carbs being replaced by quality protein and healthy fats, can reduce symptoms and bring around a return to health!
There are many implementations of low carb diets, such as Paleo, keto/ketosis/ketogenic, low inflammation diet, primal, LCHF (usually meaning Low Carb High Fat, but that causes bad implementations, so I prefer Low processed-Carb Healthy Fat instead!), and others.
Not all of these nutrition plans may be beneficial for everyone, as there are a lot of interpretations of them, and some can be too extreme for my liking. The main problems are often seen in LCHF, Paleo, or ketogenic diets, which some people can have too much of a percentage of one macronutrient, at the expense of others, which can cause deficiencies and negate any benefits to your health. When these plans are done well, the benefits to your health can be incredible!
With the "good" carbohydrates of whole, fresh, and organic vegetables and fruits being packed with nutrients, I still recommend you eat plenty of these types of carbs! So a "low carb" diet really means a "low processed-carb, low inflammation, but high in nutrients" food plan!
A low carb nutrition plan can have many benefits to your health, by increasing your nutrient intake, reducing inflammation, reducing symptoms of chronic diseases, and helping you to feel much better!