Food additives are ingredients commonly found in packaged and processed foods. Their main purpose is to enhance the color, flavor, appearance, and shelf life of food products. While they might sound harmless, some of them are actually dangerous to our health. And if you’re on a low carb diet, consuming foods with additives could potentially ruin your diet. So here’s everything you need to know about avoiding food additives on a low carb diet.
Why Are Food Additives Bad For A Low Carb Diet?
Following a low carb diet such as keto means avoiding high carb foods and sticking to foods that have zero to low carbs while eating healthy nutritious food. But in this modern world we live in, hidden carbs are lurking around every corner, including those foods that we thought are safe.
Remember that just because a food is labeled low carb does not necessarily mean that it’s safe for low carb dieters to consume. Highly processed foods such as deli meats, bacon, and low carb snack bars, may not have many carbohydrates in them, but these foods are often loaded with unhealthy substances like trans fats, excess sodium, and food additives that can in fact contribute to weight gain. Furthermore, eating low carb foods that are made from processed ingredients will not provide your body with the right nutrients in order to feel energized and satiated.
Emulsifiers linked to weight gain
Several studies have also shown that some food additives such as emulsifiers could cause weight gain and are often linked to obesity. One recent study found emulsifiers can create a bacterial imbalance in your gut that can lead to metabolic syndrome. Watch out for polysorbates and sorbitan monostearate on food labels.
Preservatives and weight
Some researchers found that the preservatives such as BHT (butylhydroxytoluene), an antioxidant added to many packaged foods, could interfere with our hormones disrupting the process that signals the brain that we’re already full. As a result, we tend to keep on eating and end up gaining weight in the process.
Maltitol and sorbitol
Products labeled as “Low-Carb” and “Sugar-Free” may be sweetened with maltitol or sorbitol. These substances get partially broken down into glucose in the digestive system and absorbed into the bloodstream. So, if you frequently eat these products you may be taking in more carbs for weight loss than you think.
Related reading: 4 Best Natural Low Carb Sweeteners
High Fructose Corn Syrup
While you might recognize that this additive would contain carbs it can also be labeled as HFCS, tapioca syrup. fruit fructose, crystalline fructose which you might think were not so bad.
The manufacturing process of corn syrup involves the use of chemicals which end up in the high fructose corn syrup. Also trace amounts of mercury, a toxic metal, have been found beverages that contain high fructose. According to Dr Mark Hyman high fructose corn syrup contains many weird chemicals that we know nothing about so is best avoided.
Though trans fats may not directly cause weight gain they cause serious health problems. Multiple studies have linked a higher intake of trans fats to a higher risk of heart disease. The studies show that trans fat increase LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (good) cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. They can also contribute to increased inflammation, diabetes, and other health problems.
Related reading: How a Low Carb High Fat Diet Affects your Cholesterol
Avoiding Harmful Food Additives
The next time you go grocery shopping, take time to read the label of the low carb foods you plan on buying. If the label indicates that it contains artificial additives, then it’s probably highly processed and contains ingredients that could counteract with your low carb goals.
In general, packaged foods don’t work well for weight loss and won’t help in correcting metabolic issues. These foods may have hidden carbs that the manufacturers have not declared on the label. Analyze the food labels well. If you take a closer look at the labels of these packaged foods, you’ll notice that the product is in fact filled with so many food additives, including sweeteners, chemicals, and sugar alcohol. These are actually processed junk foods and are not good for your health, even if they are labeled “low carb”.
Why Everyone Should Avoid Additives
Whether you’re on a low carb diet or not, food additives should be avoided. Many believe that food additives are among the number one causes of cancer. According to studies, the average American is said to consume up to five pounds of food additives in a year coming from processed foods, which is pretty alarming. These artificial ingredients add little to no nutritional value and could pose a threat to your health. So as much as possible, try to eat foods that are free from additives, chemicals, and preservatives, whether you’re on the low carb diet or not.
Image by Mike Mozart