Saturday, May 17, 2008

Low Carb Diets: The Final Verdict

New research provides solid evidence that a low carb diet is VERY effective. Study after study shows the impact that a low carb diet has not only on weight loss, but also blood sugar and cholesterol. But before we examine this evidence, let's first discuss carbs and their impact on weight.

What are "good" carbs and what are "bad" carbs?

When I talk about carbohydrates, I'm referring to the starchy carbs like grains (flour, bread, cereal, oatmeal, pasta), potatoes, corn, and any kind of sugar (including fruit). Vegetables are also a type of carbohydrates, but most vegetables are GOOD carbs, and we all need to eat more of this type of carb.

If you are at a healthy weight, and have no disease (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, etc.) it is probably ok for you to consume the "bad" carbohydrates in small amounts. But most of us do not fall into this category, and until we do, we need to strictly limit the amount of carbs that we eat. Doing this will help most people to achieve a healthy weight and vastly improve their overall health. (Many people have even reported being "cured" of their diseases through a high-vegetable, low carb diet.)

Why do we gain weight when we eat too many carbohydrates?

Here's a view into how the body handles carbohydrates:

Our bodies cannot store large amounts of carbohydrates; we are only built to store very small amounts. We are meant to use the glucose in the carbohydrates for burning through activity. But our diet (especially the "standard American diet") is VERY high in carbs. Because we cannot possibly burn off all that glucose, it gets converted by insulin into fat. Then that fat is stored in our stomachs, hips, thighs, and chins.

When we eat something that's high in carbohydrates, it causes a rapid rise in blood glucose (or "blood sugar"). This signals the pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin lowers the blood sugar, and makes this sugar available to our cells for energy. Any excess blood sugar that is not used for energy (activity, exercise) must be stored for future use. Unfortunately, the way this is stored is in our fat tissue.

It gets worse. When we consistently eat foods that are high in carbs, our insulin levels become chronically high. High insulin levels suppress two other important hormones (glucagons and growth hormones) that burn fat and sugar and promote muscle development. So eating excess carbohydrates not only promotes fat, it also makes it harder to lose that fat, and creates a vicious cycle.

Dr. Atkins would be proud. More research supports the use of a low carb diet, and its long-lasting effect on weight loss.

In a June 2006 article published in Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers studied the effect of a low-carb diet on obese type 2 diabetic patients vs a higher-carbohydrate diet. More specifically, the low carb group eliminated pasta, potatoes, rice, and breakfast cereals and instead of ordinary bread, consumed crisp/hard bread (probably similar to the Bran-A-Crisp recommended in the Atkins Diet) that contained 4-8 grams of carbs. The low carb group consumed 80-90 grams of carbohydrates a day, all of which were from vegetables and salad (no fruit). The study was conducted over the course of six months (a small amount of time considering that it probably took these people years to become obese).

The group that ate a higher-carbohydrate diet obtained the majority of their carbohydrates from whole grain products and fruit (they also consumed generous helpings of vegetables). The two group's caloric intake was about the same.

The results? The low carb group lost an average of 25 pounds! Even more significant was that this group kept the weight off: after 2 years, the average weight loss was still 20 pounds. As an added benefit, almost half of the patients who were on antidiabetes drugs and insulin were able to stop taking the drugs altogether.

The researchers' conclusion: "a low-carbohydrate diethas lasting benefits on body weight".

So what are you waiting for? It's time to finally break the addiction to grains, potatoes, and sugar. Go through your kitchen and TOSS everything that's a grain, potato, or sugar (or made with any of those things). Not having the "bad" stuff in the house makes a HUGE difference in your weight loss success.

The TRUTH about Low Carb Foods

The downside to the low carb diet is that most packaged low carb foods are filled with junk and can make you sick. Most low carb diets emphasize hormone, nitrate, and pesticide-laden meats, fats, and dairy products that you should never consume in large quantities. Then, the "sweet treats" that people use as part of their low carb diet are filled with artificial sweeteners that have a cloudy and questionable safety history. Most low carb foods are a far cry from healthy food.

Other unhealthy ingredients that are frequently seen in low carb food products include soy flour and modified food starch--these products do more harm than good. People turn to these packaged products seeking an easy, convenient way to eat "low carb" with a busy schedule and on a budget. But there are much healthier low carb alternatives that are still quick and easy.

The Bottom Line

The low carb diet is here to stay. It works, plain and simple. But there can be damaging effects of eating poor quality low carb foods. There are healthy ways to eat low carb, and it means eating WHOLE, high quality foods, not packaged products. (Although there certainly ARE some healthy low carb packaged products, but you have to read ingredients carefully.) Finding sources of natural meats and dairy products is also important. It can be an effort, but it's well worth it, especially considering the huge health impact of being overweight.

Learn more about a healthy low carb diet that provides LASTING weight loss at This site provides unique and holistic weight loss solutions that WORK. Also includes the SECRET to weight loss--it's a pleasant surprise!


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