Saturday, June 18, 2005

Why Low-Fat, Low-Calorie Diets Fail And Low-Carb Succeeds

I was browsing around the Internet the other day and came across an article about why low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled diets do not produce permanent weight loss. It strengthens the argument that people should be livin' la vida low-carb.

Just as I have stated for many times in this forum, the article notes that the low-fat/low-calorie diet has been shoved down our throats for nearly three decades and has not been successful. The article outlines two reasons why these diets have failed.

"The first is physical. The diet is predicated on the theory that reducing calories will translate into a corresponding weight loss. How many times have you read that if you would just reduce your caloric intake by 3,500 a week, you could lose a pound a week? Does it work? It will work for just about everyone for a short period but the human body is just too intelligent for this easy plan to work for long."

Therein lies the problem with low-fat/low-calories diets. It DOES work, but only for the people who are willing to put up with feeling hungry ALL THE TIME and don't mind eating terrible-tasting foods. I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, but I literally could not continue to eat that way for the rest of my life. I was starving for food! That was not a healthy way to live, regardless of the weight loss I had achieved.

"Think about this: the body wants to preserve life at all costs. Pretty neat when you think about it – a built in regulating system designed to look after your best interests. However, while that built in system was invaluable for preserving the human species during extended periods of famine, it can work against us now living in modern society."

Oooh, this article has hit on something I had never thought about before. Because you deprive your body of food when you are starving yourself on low-fat/low-calorie diets, your body goes into survival mode and holds on to every bite of food it can get not knowing if it will get enough food to give you the energy you need.

While low-fat/low-calorie dieters are proud of the fact they count each and every fat gram and calorie in specific portions for their meals, they may not even realize how much they are confusing their own body with how they eat. No wonder people who get off low-fat/low-calories diets rapidly gain back their weight and then some?! That's exactly what happened to me in 1999 until I started a low-carb lifestyle in 2004.

"Food is plentiful here in the US. The vast majority of us never worry about having enough to eat. Life is good! But when you are trying to lose weight you may occasionally overeat, the self-preservation factor just turns into a fat preservation factor. The less you eat, the lower your body sets it’s metabolic furnace. Thus if you indulge, what the body now considers excess calories turns into fat. Ugh!"

That's my point exactly regarding most diets in America. You just don't get enough food. There is scientific evidence that proves your body will desperately hold on to stored fat when you are on low-fat diet. If you goal is to shed that fat from your body, then low-fat/low-calorie diets won't do it for you.

The article accurately cites the fact that no "direct correlation" has ever been shown between cutting calories and weight loss. NONE!

However, there is a study from a Canadian university on caloric intake that shows calories are not as important in weight management as once thought.

"In a groundbreaking study, twelve sets of male twins were overfed 1000 calories a day for 84 days. If the direct correlation between weight and calories existed, the extra 84,000 calories should have caused all the men to gain 24 pounds. That didn’t happen. Some gained as little as 9.5 lbs and others as much as 29.0 lbs. Why the enormous difference? Metabolism! The one element that did show to affect the results was whether the men were fat burners or fat storers when beginning the study."

That's why you need to get your body into fat BURNING mode. It is essential for weight loss and weight maintenance. Guess which diet does this? Low-fat? Are you kidding? Low-calorie? NOT! It's livin' la vida low-carb of course!

"Think about the vicious cycle you start when you go on a low calorie diet. The less you eat, the less your body needs to get by (notice I didn’t say feel great) so you either stall out eventually, or you give up."

Yikes! Why would anyone ever want to do a low-fat/low-calorie diet. No matter how much it is repackaged and allegedly improved, it's still always going to be a failed permanent weight loss approach. ALWAYS!

This brings me to the second shortcoming. Low calorie diets are hard psychologically! It’s darn hard to continually give up all the foods you love. No more potato chips, no French fries, no doughnuts or whatever your particular comfort food is. WOW that’s hard. This alone makes diet of this type nearly impossible to stick with over an extended period of time.

It's funny how people think low-carb is hard because you supposedly deprive your body of foods you love. While it is a challenge for some to give up these vices, it's not nearly as difficult as what you give up on low-fat/low-calorie diets. With low-carb you have CHOICES, but those diets leave you no choices at all. That can certainly work on your mind (i.e. what the heck am I doing this to myself for?) and will derail your weight loss efforts. The low-carb lifestyle is different because you will enjoy lots of great-tasting foods and never feel deprived.

The article concludes that most government guidelines for protein intake are severely lacking for a healthy body.

"It's just enough to prevent sickness or death. I don't know about you but I want more than just enough to physically get by. I want enough to grow or at least preserve my muscle mass. I want enough to retain youthful skin and thick hair as I age."

Amen, brother! I think I'll celebrate that fact with a big, juicy steak today!

"The other problem limiting protein and fat on a low calorie diet causes is to have you turn to carbohydrates for the vast majority of our daily food intake. Excessive carbohydrate intake can cause your system work harder to control blood sugar levels by producing unnaturally high levels of insulin. Insulin is a fat storing hormone. Compound this problem with the likelihood that those carbohydrates are refined, the sugar spikes will go higher, faster and more and more insulin is produced to control it."

Do I even need to comment on what overconsuming carbohydrates does to your body? I think we all know the answer to that question. That's why we chose to limit our carb intake so we can improve our health and maintain our weight at the proper level.

"So when you subject yourself to a very low calorie diet, your metabolism slows, your muscle mass declines and you never get to have another piece of cake. Why low calorie diets are doomed to fail you seems obvious doesn't it?"

Indeed it does. But it shouldn't be the only way recommended for people to lose weight. Low-carb succeeds because it offers people who have tried and failed on low-fat/low-calorie diets to get a taste of better living. They can enjoy a much wider selection of foods they can enjoy and feel satisfied with. It really is a lifestyle change that people can make and feel good about. I have been livin' la vida low-carb since January 2004 and wouldn't have it any other way!


Blogger Jeff Hamlin said...

Hey Jimmy just a quick update. Since restarting Atkins this week, I think I have lost somewhere in the area of 5-10 pounds ALREADY in just 4 days! Great stuff I tells ya. I'll send you more info tonight when I come home from work. Until then, be good! =)

6/18/2005 4:28 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Jeff! Keep on livin' la vida low-carb, buddy!

6/19/2005 3:54 PM  
Blogger robert said...

JImmy, you keep harping on "low fat, low calorie." Most diets programs are just "low calorie." You can eat fat, but of course fat has calories: if you want to eat your calories in fat, fine. A simple fat-agnostic "low calorie" diet is completely consistent with low carb or Atkins. Low carb is just a subset of low calorie. Low carb dieters lose weight because they are eating fewer calories than they burn, just like low calorie dieters. You have yet to give any evidence that this is not the case.

So, there is no need to "feel hungry all the time" on a low calorie diet: if protein is what makes you as an individual feel satiated, you can eat your calories in protein rather than as carbs. Just don't fool yourself that your weight loss or weight maintenance is anything other than the eating of an appropriate number of calories vis a vis your daily energy needs. Calories in the form of protein are the same as other calories once they're burning in your body's furnace.

Even though you claim you don't have to count calories on a low carb diet, hey, why not humor us and do it for a month or so as you eat low carb. If it comes out about 3,500 calories per day, plus or minus, you're just eating an appropriate number of calories to maintain your weight as stated on this blog, nothing more. There's nothing magic about low carb.

6/19/2005 11:16 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

The point is I don't HAVE to count my calories because it's irrelevant to me. And I vehemently disagree that a low-carb diet is simply a subset of a low-calorie diet. Studies have shown that low-carbers actually eat MORE calories than their low-calorie/low-fat counterparts. Admit it, livin' la vida low-carb is better than low-calorie.

6/20/2005 5:51 PM  

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