Friday, June 03, 2005

Obesity Expert Suggests Dangerous Low-Fat, Low-Carb Combination

Just when you think weight loss recommendations couldn't get any more insane than they already have, along comes a story that makes you shake your head.

Have you heard about what a so-called obesity expert named Professor Arne Astrup from the Institute of Human Nutrition in Copenhagen, Denmark said about dealing with this issue at an event in Athens, Greece called The European Congress on Obesity?

"Combining some of the good things from the low carb with the good things from the low fat diets seems to be satiating and also to enhance weight loss," he said.

Say what? Let me first congratulate Professor Astrup for recognizing the clear good benefits of livin' la vida low-carb. At least he acknowledges them and doesn't seek to demonize anything and everything that has to do with the low-carb lifestyle.

But mixing low-carb with low-fat is like mixing oil and water. They don't go together at all. In fact, both ways of eating are diametrically opposed to one another because they each have a different role to play in shaping the body's chemistry for weight loss.

Low-carb NEEDS fat to function and to keep people satisfied while low-fat NEEDS lots and lots of carbs to keep you from starving (and you're still starving!). Combining low-fat with low-carb is very dangerous and stupid, too. Why would you do that? It makes no sense whatsoever! Are these "obesity experts" TRYING to make the problem worse? It makes you wonder sometimes.

The Reuters story explains: "Low carbohydrate diets such as Atkins, which largely exclude fruit, vegetables and grains, produce a greater weight loss initially than reduced-fat plans but in the long-term they are no better and may have side effects."

Atkins doesn't exclude fruits, vegetables and grains. I eat lots and lots of strawberries, blueberries, green beans, salads, multi-grain low-carb bread and GoLower Bars chock full of grains. I'm not excluding any of those categories of foods that are part of a healthy eating plan.

While the story acknowledges that low-carb can "produce a greater weight loss initially than reduced-fat plans," it fails to endorse this as a long-term way to eat and maintain weight loss and excellent health. In fact, it warns that there may be "side effects" with low-carb plans, including diarrhea, muscle weakness, dehydration, and even colon cancer.

There have not been enough long-term studies conducted on the low-carb lifestyle to declare that they definitively cause any adverse conditions. Any declaration otherwise is purely speculation based on the opinion and bias of the person or organization stating it.

But what is with the diarrhea claim? In the intial phase of doing Atkins, you may experience an increase in the frequency of trips to the restroom as your body purges itself of years and years of poor eating habits. This is natural and should be expected. But it quickly goes away once your body rids itself of these toxins.

As for muscle weakness, I have no idea what they are talking about. Of course you will feel a little "run down" in the first few days of doing low-carb because your body will need to shift to the low-carb lifestyle. You will go through some body aches from denying yourself sugar, soda, caffeine, and more, but again it will quickly go away as long as you stay on low-carb. This does not last over the long-term.

On the subject of dehydration, DRINK MORE WATER! Duh! If your low-carb lifestyle keeps you from satisfying your thirst, then belly up on good old H2O. What a simple solution to this alleged "problem" with low-carb.

Colon cancer? Okay, now they're just imploring scare tactics to keep people away from doing low-carb. They claim the lack of fruits, veggies and grains will cause a back-up in the colon and lead to cancer. How dumb do they think we are? if you eat plenty of fiber as every low-carb program suggests and occasionally use a colon cleansing system, then you will have no danger of getting this. Sensationalist tactics like this are what drives me to continually challenge the idiocy of the anti-Atkins crowd. They'll never stop doing it if nobody calls their bluff!

But dear Professor Astrop gets even more absurd with his comments by labeling low-carb as an "extreme" way to eat.

"You cannot live without carbohydrates for years."

Who said anything about not eating carbs? I eat lots of them, although not as many as I used to or as most other people do I'm sure. The key is to limit them to a level that will help you lose weight and keep it off for good. I've been doing it for a year and a half and have found it to be incredibly easy, satisfying and something I can do for the rest of my life. Our bodies don't need all of that extra sugar and white flour. People like Professor Astrop are side-stepping the real issue that needs to be addressed by hyperbolizing the low-carb lifestyle.

Astrup claims he has studies that show reducing fat intake by 10 percent causes weight loss in people who are overweight or obese.

So what? This isn't about which plan can help you LOSE weight, but rather which one can help you KEEP IT OFF. I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, but I was unable to keep it off because it was not realistic for me to keep eating that way for the rest of my life. Low-carb is different. It is so interesting and contains such a wide variety of foods that it is something that can be done over the long-term. That's the clear difference between low-fat and low-carb.

The "optimum diet," Astrup states, is one that contains 25-30 percent of calories from fat, between 15-25 percent from protein in the form of lean meat and dairy products and 45-55 percent from carbohydrates consisting of fruit, vegetable, whole grains and legumes.

This "balanced diet" is supposed to keep you fit and trim, Astrup alleges.

The story concludes that the popularity of low-carb has "faded" and the "low glycemic index diet" is now the hot diet out there. But low GI programs are so similar to low-carb diets like Atkins that it's laughable how the media is falling all over itself to report this new trend in weight loss.

But Astrup told the crowd of 2,000 delegates from 80 countries that he is not convinced that low GI foods are any better for maintaining weight loss.

Is this really what's being discussed in a world forum about the obesity problem? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes. We have such a long way to go before anything will be done to convince people how low-carb could help them. I guess we'll have to continue educating people one by one so there can be more living, breathing examples of people like me who have seen tremendous success on a low-carb lifestyle.


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