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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Sioux Falls Health Reporter Should Do Her Homework On Low-Carb

This health report from KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota makes a lot of assumptions about the low-carb lifestyle that have no bearing whatsoever on how well it helps you lose weight.

The segment was conducted by a woman named Jaine Andrews, an award-winning medical reporter for KELO who focuses on the latest health news. She uses her experience as a nationally-registered EMT-B to educate her television audience with the information they need regarding health and nutrition.

Unfortunately, Andrews apparently did not do her homework before airing this particular health story highly critical of the low-carb lifestyle.

She states in her piece that people who have been successful on low-carb over the long-term have actually learned to limit their fat and calories.

"If you've been watching someone quickly shed pounds on a low-carb diet, it's easy to assume that foods low in carbohydrates are also low in calories," she explained. "But doctors say that's not necessarily true. In fact, regardless of how they shed pounds in the first place, big losers stayed that way limiting fat rather than carbohydrates."

I'm sorry, Ms. Andrews, but that's just plain wrong information. As someone who has been on a low-carb lifestyle since January 1, 2004 starting out at a very unhealthy 410 pounds, I have been consuming more calories and much more fat than I have ever done on any diet plan in my entire life. After shedding 180 pounds in about a year, I have continued to eat a lot of fat and calories while watching my carb intake to maintain my weight loss over the past six months.

There is no correlation between low-carb and low-calorie foods in any form or fashion. And nor should there be! When you are livin' la vida low-carb, you don't have to pay attention to calories or even fat grams because it is the amount of carbs you eat that will determine whether your weight loss will continue or be maintained. As long as you limit your carb intake to the level of carbs you are allowed to eat in a day without gaining weight, you should maintain your weight fine. But if you start eating more carbs than your body actually needs, there will be a simultaneous weight GAIN that will occur.

As for the "big losers" comment about keeping the weight off, I guess my 180 pounds wouldn't be classified as such since I haven't been cutting my fat intake, but rather my carb intake! That ridiculous statement from Andrews shows just how incredibly uninformed she is about the healthy benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. But she can't help it, I guess, because that's probably what she's been taught in her education about health and nutrition. But as someone who has been reporting on the topic for more than a decade, I think Andrews should start relying on her own empirical research and studies to come to better conclusions that will help her viewers know the WHOLE TRUTH about the health opportunities available to them.

Quoting a local bariatric clinic doctor, Andrews said these findings about low-carb strengthen reports that their popularity has diminished and are not meant for long-term weight loss.

"What happens is they go through the diet and they lose a little bit of weight," the bariatric doctor told Andrews. "They get off the diet because these diets are not diets that you can live on forever. These are very restrictive diets in one way or another and, you know once they get off the diet their weight zooms right back up because they haven't learned how to keep the weight permanently off."

What's so hard about staying on low-carb? I have personally found it to be the easiest, best-tasting "diet" I have ever done in my entire life. Sure, you give up a few things that are detrimental to your health such as sugar and white flour. But, oh my goodness, look at all the delicious, mouthwatering choices you have at your fingertips when it's time to eat! Restrictive? Hardly. But a low-fat diet is about the hardest diet you could ever do because the choices are a lot more limited on that plan than any other.

As for getting off the low-carb program, of course you'll gain back the weight. But I contend there are millions of people just like me who have made this our permanent way of eating. Livin' la vida low-carb isn't just some fad we're doing for the sake of losing a few pounds and then going back to "normal" eating. We see low-carb as a way of life that we will do for the rest of our lives. We don't need any experts telling us it is wrong for us when all we have seen is tremendous and permanent success.

Supposedly a ten-year study by the National Weight Control Registry found that most people who have lost at least 30 pounds or more and kept it off for a year did it on a low-fat diet.

If that's the case for most people, then more power to them! But don't tell me sustained weight loss cannot be done using the low-carb approach. I'm just one of many who are living proof that this lifestyle works and works very well in the long-term.

"According to one researcher, most of the dieters who continued eating low-carb managed to eat enough calories to re-gain the weight."

What?! That's a bunch of psuedo-science, psycho-babble malarky! There is no evidence that shows low-carbers gain back their weight because they continued to eat more calories than they would on a low-fat plan. I've said it already, but I'll say it again. You don't count calories on low-carb. You just don't! As long as you keep your carb intake controlled, you will maintain your weight loss or even continue losing weight. Stating that low-carbers will start packing on the pounds eating the same way they lost the weight is just fearmongering by those opposed to this healthy alternative way of eating we have chosen.

Interestingly, the National Weight Control Registry is looking for anyone who has lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year. I signed up for the registry today since I lost 30 pounds in my first month on low-carb in January 2004. I think you could count my losing another 150 pounds as "keeping it off! :-) They are supposed to check in with you periodically to see if the weight loss has been maintained. I know it will for me as long as I keep on livin' la vida low-carb!

How about all of us who have been successful on low-carb signing up for this registry and prove to them that their findings are grossly inaccurate and obviously not based on real people who are making low-carb their lifestyle of choice?! Sign up by clicking here.

And as for Andrews, why don't you drop her an e-mail urging her to report the truth about the effectiveness of low-carb instead of heralding the failed low-fat/low-calorie weight loss diets! Tell her to study more about low-carb so she can better inform her viewers of the amazing weight loss and health benefits it has to offer them.

2 Comments:

Blogger Robert S said...

You seem to be claiming that a cutting out carbs is a completely independent way of losing weight, not related to creating a calorie deficit. In other words, as long as you don't eat carbs, you can eat whatever you want in whatever quantities you want. For example, you could eat 30,000 calories of fatty meat a day and lose weight, because calories have nothing whatsoever to do with it. Is that what you're claiming? Are you aware the Atkins people don't even claim that? Can you provode a source that supports this claim? (Preferably not a blog.)

Can you give us some more details about what *you* actually ate, and in what quantities? From the information on your web site, you would have had daily caloric needs of about 4,750 calories when you started, and your current caloric needs are about 3,300. In addition, your first one to three month's loss could be partially explained by the edema that many severely obese people have. Quick weight loss in the beginning can be explained by the water loss associated with edema. Did you have a medical checkup before you started your diet regime?

For the normal thin person, your current daily caloric needs (and my figures assume not much in the way of exercise) of 3,300 calories is a huge amount of food. I can see how you might be led to believe that you can eat anything you want with 3,300 calories to play with.

To account for your one year's weight loss, you would have to have been on a somewhat restricted caloric intake diet. One explanation would be a starting caloric intake of 1,200 or so calories (or up to several hundred calories more, depending on edema and exercise) rising to 3,300 calories at the end. Again, why don't you post sample daily menus of what you actually typically ate. There's some non "pseudo-science" "empirical" research you could contribute to the discussion.

The bottom line: you lose weight because you eat fewer calories than you burn. Diets work because in some way they manage to motivate people to eat fewer calories than they burn. Atkins may do this by requiring food that, in large quantities, tends to be somewhat gross (like bacon), or somewhat expensive. In addition, true believers get psyched up about their diet systems and that can inhibit calorie intake.

By the way, the TV reporter's reference to fat was not a claim that fat has some sort of mystical properties related to weight gain; just that fat has 9 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates, so it's easier to lose weight (or let your diet get out of control) if you don't pay attention to fat relative to the other two.

Finally, your weight still puts you in the "obese" BMI category (unless you are 7 feet tall). Why not lose the rest, if low carb is so simple?

5/29/2005 5:26 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Just in case you missed my response to this ridiculous post, you can read it here.

5/29/2005 10:10 AM  

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