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Monday, December 19, 2005

Carbohydrate Consumption Is A Good Thing

The headline of this Manila Times story asks a very good question for anyone who is livin' la vida low-carb: "Carbohydrates, good or bad?"

Hmmm, let me see. If I'm the media or a lame-brained health expert who typically writes this story, then the answer to that question from the supposed perspective of a low-carb follower is BAD BAD BAD. Isn't that how they portray us low-carbers? They think that we run as fast as we can in the other direction just at the sight of carbohydrates. But nothing could be further from the truth.

It may surprise a lot of people, but I eat LOTS of carbs, just not as many as I used to eat before I started this wonderful way of eating on January 1, 2004. Never again will I mindlessly put worthless carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour and starchy foods in my mouth. The negative impact on my weight and health is just not worth going through all over again. Weighing 220 and being an energetic fireball of a man is a whole lot better than weighing 410 on the brink of my body shutting down for good! No thank you!

The story noted that the Atkins diet has helped people who desire to lose weight learn the principles of watching their carb intake and eating more fat and protein to make it happen. But with all the low-carb programs out there touting the various kinds of carbs, the story adds that the consumer may be confused about which method they should use if they choose to follow the low-carb lifestyle.

"So, are carbohydrates really essential to our diet? And if it is, what is the right approach to eating carbs?"

What GREAT questions to ask! My quick answers are ABSOLUTELY carbohydrates are essential to our diet. And the right approach to eating carbs is to consume them in quantities that your body can handle and not add any additional weight to your body. For some, that could be 100g carbs per day, but for others it could be more.

When I was losing weight, I restricted my carbs to about 35-40g per day after the intial first few weeks at 20g carbs. Today, now that I have lost almost 190 pounds on the low-carb lifestyle, 180 of which was lost in 2004, I enjoy between 100-125g net carbs per day. Would anyone want to challenge me that I am eating too few carbs? Actually, some low-carbers may even say I am eating TOO MANY carbs if you can believe that. It's all about finding YOUR carb tolerance level and staying within those parameters to control your weight and remain healthy.

Of course, this article suggests "moderation" in our diet. But what is a "moderate" carb intake? And how should carbs be balanced with fat and protein, the other two macronutrients that the body uses to maintain optimum health and vitality?

Simple carbs, such as table sugar and complex carbs, like those in starchy foods, can be found in many food products including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and even the much-heralded whole grain foods. Not surprisingly, carbs are also loaded in many of the processed foods available today as well which is why people who are livin' la vida low-carb should avoid these products in favor of whole foods.

Paying attention to the way various carbohydrates can impact your glucose levels is the science behind the glycemic index. The impact foods can have on your blood sugar levels can directly affect how your body will respond to the carbs you consume. The lower the GI, the better off your body will be able to ward off any symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Also, those lower GI foods, like eggs and meat, keep you much more satiated than the sugary, starchy foods that are all-too-often the choice for many Americans.

I really like the following quote from the story because it is something I blogged about previously:

"Merely cutting back on carbohydrate consumption may not be the correct way to lose weight. Health experts emphasize the importance of choosing the 'right' carbohydrates to our diets."

This is so true. People that I talk to about low-carb tell me that they cut back on the number of sugary sodas they drink or they "only" have a few slices of bread a day. I usually respond back and ask if the person is on any specific low-carb program and most of the time they reply that they're just cutting back on the carbs. This opens the door for me to share that low-carb living is not about just cutting back on the carbs, but getting you to pay attention to what kind of carbs go in your mouth.

People are surprised to learn simply cutting back on their carbs does not result in weight loss, but they have to be educated to understand how livin' la vida low-carb works. That's why I created this blog and why I often point people to Jonny Bowden's "Living the Low-Carb Life" as an excellent resource for learning about low-carb prior to getting on it.

The story points out a study from the University of Washington that shows people who eat a low-carb, high-protein diet with no restrictions on portions eat less calories and lost an average of 11 pounds over a 12-week period eating less calories than they were on their regular high-carb diet. People always say that low-carb only works because you eat less calories which makes you lose weight.

So! What's your point?! If I can eat the incredibly delicious buffet of foods at my disposal on a low-carb lifestyle and still lose or maintain my weight, then I personally don't care if I'm eating less calories or not. I feel such freedom from eating low-carb unlike any other way of eating before. People who say livin' la vida low-carb is not exciting enough or enjoyable enough to eat that way forever are delusional. Perhaps these people should try reading some of the popular low-carb cookbooks on the market today!

One diet program the story says is more balanced is the CSIRO Total Well-Being Diet (I reviewed this diet plan at CarbSmart Magazine a couple of months ago), which includes 30 percent protein, 15 percent fat and the remaining 55 percent from the so-called "good" carbs found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. To me, that's way too many carbs to be consuming in a day and not nearly enough healthy fat to help your body fuel up with the energy it needs for working out and living life.

The story claims that a moderate-carb, low-fat diet is the best way to control your weight and prevent heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Obviously, I disagree with that assessment. To me it boils down to this -- do you believe fat is worse for your body than sugar? If you say yes, then obviously you will side with those who promote backing off on fat intake for weight control and health.

But if you say no and believe sugar is more detrimental to your health and weight than fat, then you will agree with me that a better course of action for weight management and disease prevention is to enjoy a low-carb/high-protein/high-fat diet and not feel guilty about it one bit!

If my 190-pound weight loss isn't proof enough that this way of eating is effective, then I don't know how much more evidence people need to believe it! I get e-mails from people all the time who share how livin' la vida low-carb has changed their lives, too. That's why I'll never stop giving props to Dr. Atkins and his miracle weight loss plan because people are still losing a whole lotta weight and restoring their health eating low-carb. That's a fact, Jack!

The story concludes that "there is no more question about the importance of carbohydrates in our diet."

Uh, yeah there is. People are still eating many more carbs than their body NEEDS and they don't even realize it. I was at a Christmas party yesterday where white sugar cookies with icing on top were served. I checked out the nutritional label on these cookies and discovered there were a WHOPPING 34g carbs for just ONE cookie! Yikes! Be still my fluttering heart.

But how many people care a bit in the world that there was that many carbs in the cookie? Not many. But if it had 34g of fat in it, there would be outrage and scorn! Somebody tell me why there's such a difference in mentality?!

The story says to choose the "right" carbs, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But you must be careful about some of these kind of carbs because there are good "good" carbs and there are bad "good" carbs.

So how do you answer the question, "Carbohydrates, good or bad?" The answer to the question is YES! :)

3 Comments:

Blogger Science4u1959 said...

As asual, my friend, you hit the nail on the head! Excellent advice, and completely true. And the fact that one consumes automatically less calories by consuming less carbs is, of course, only one of the many beneficial sideffects of this wonderful, scientific way of eating. Great post, Jimmy!

12/21/2005 2:16 AM  
Blogger LindaLCforLife said...

Good article Jimmy. I'm still so amazed at how people are so blind to bad carbohydrates being the culprit. It's there, right in front of our faces. I work at a hospital and I can't believe how our cafeteria will serve fake meat, but there are always plenty of bagels, donuts, cereal, loads of pasta, potatoes, chips, pop and candy, etc. You're lucky if you could get a real egg in there in the morning. Their sugary low-fat yogurts and Snackwell cookies are advertised as "healthy snacks."!! They even have an ice cream machine. Like you said, I don't get it either, the difference in mentality.

12/21/2005 7:22 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

To Linda: did you know that there's a hospital in the USA that "miraculously" cures children that are literally given up my mainstream science and medicine? It's a famous hospital, yet the fact that they do this, and more importantly, are capable of doing this, is not widely known.

The very serious and potentially leathal condition they cure with great success is epilepsy - a horrible decease.

So this hospital is able to at least control, but in most cases cure very seriously epileptic children. These are children that are so ill that conventional medicine has given up on them. They are not cured by primarily prescribing medicines.

Instead, they are cured by applying nutritional science. These children are treated with a low-carb, high-fat diet. With "miraculous" results.

The hospital is the Bethesda Children's Hospital in Maryland.

It is, to say the least, very amazing that outside of the scientific community, hardly anybody knows of this stunning breakthrough in applied nutritional science...

There is also recent and overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence that children suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are, in fact, suffering from a defect of the carbohydrate metabolism. They are treated with great success on, you guessed it, a low-carb diet.

Sadly, I am supremely confident that none of this is common knowledge... like in your hospital, King Lie still rules with an iron fist, and most worrysome, still has many servants...

12/23/2005 1:41 AM  

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