Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Stricter Standards Needed On 'Low-Carb' Foods

This ABC News story cites a new study from a consumer magazine which states low-carb dieters are wasting too much money on foods that are loaded with carbohydrates.

Can we say the WELL DUH of the year? I've been telling people to be very careful when they see a product on the shelf at the supermarket that has the word "carb" or something like that on it to actually read the ingredients label to see what is in it. Most of the new products that literally flooded the shelves and pushed out other good products were just loaded with added and might I add unnecessary hidden sugars.

Choice, an Australian consumer magazine, found that people who are following a low-carb diet program are eating just as many carbohydrates in their low-carb products as they were in the regular versions of those products and are paying up to 500 percent more for those foods.

Well, if that is indeed happening to people who are livin' la vida low-carb, then that's their own fault. People who have read books about doing low-carb as prescribed know that you have to be aware of any food that you put in your mouth and you cannot trust that the food manufacturer who produced this "low-carb" product has the best interest of your health in mind when they created it. They just want your money and it's high time somebody blew the whistle on these people and hold them accountable for their false advertising.

Clare Hughes, the food policy officer for Choice magazine, said consumers needed to know that low-carb foods are no healthier than regular ones.

"For example, the manufacturer's suggested serving size of one of the low-carb pastas was 50g, whereas most other pasta manufacturers will say that a serving size is 100g," she said. "So you eat less carb because you're actually eating a smaller amount of food."

That's not entirely true if you are purchasing a genuine low-carb product. If you get Dreamfield's pasta, then the carbohydrate content of a serving size is just 5 net carbs. This is compared with the 60 or so carbs for that regular pasta serving. That's a big difference and makes it easy to see why it is important to read your labels.

Hughes continued: "They also replace the sugars and starches with ingredients that don't count as carbohydrates on the nutrition panel. Some use use synthetic forms of dietary fibre but these forms of fibre don't offer the nutritional benefits of fruit, nuts or whole grains that are all rich in carbohydrate."

But if it is dietary fiber, then you don't have to count those are part of your digestible carbs. I don't know why people get so hung up on this point. Take the total carbohydrates on the nutritional label and subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohols to get the net carbs. Is this too difficult to understand or am I missing something here?

Interestingly, Hughes calls for something that I write about in my upcomng book that will make a lasting impact on the low-carb industry in the future. She believes, like I do, that there needs to be more stringent food labeling regulations to avoid confusing unbeknownst low-carb customers looking for products for their diet plan.

"Some low-carb products may have less carbohydrates per serving than their conventional counterparts, but not necessarily so much less to make you lose weight," Hughes exclaimed.

I'm glad to know I'm not a lonely voice on this issue. I believe a group of low-carb industry leaders need to meet together to form some sort of guidelines that food companies will have to follow in order to label their product as a "low-carb" food option. This needs to be done as soon as possible to cause food companies to fess up to their low-carb product scam on the public. This is long overdue.

In Australia, the food standards spokeswoman said her team is currently looking at the phrase "low-carb" and attempting to come up with a clear way to define what that means to consumers.

"We have to work out whether it's meaningful, health-wise, to say whether a product is low-carb or not," the spokeswoman said. "We will seek public comment later this year and the review is due to be finalised by perhaps mid-next year."

That will certainly get the ball rolling in that country and I think the same should happen in the United States.

One final thought: On the online version of this particular Choice story, there is a section called "Spin Doctors" in a pink box at the bottom of the page which states the following asinine commentary:

"There's no evidence that low-carb diets are safe beyond about 12 months. They can put you at risk of heart disease and kidney problems, not to mention increasing your chances of developing osteoporosis.

You’re much better off trying to lose weight by exercising more and eating less — and sticking to a diet with plenty of whole grains, fruit and veggies, with lean meat and low-fat dairy products."

You don't think Choice magazine would have an anti-low-carb, pro low-fat agenda, would you?


Blogger Allan said...

Just playin with ya. Very impressed with your success. Keep up the program and enjoy the loss. It looks great on you.

8/09/2005 11:03 AM  
Blogger Regina Wilshire said...

Take the total carbohydrates on the nutritional label and subtract the dietary fiber and sugar alcohols to get the net carbs. Is this too difficult to understand or am I missing something here?

Sugar alcohols have calories, one in particular, glycerine, actually has more calories than other carbohydrates with 4.1 calories per gram...and all potentially can be metabolized just like any other carbohydrate delivering anywhere from a couple of calories per gram to the full four calories typical in a gram of carbohydrate - the more you eat them, the more your body gets better at metabolizing them.

8/09/2005 12:07 PM  

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