Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Calorie Restriction Advocate Endorses Low-Carb

I couldn't help but notice that my blog was referenced at another blog called April's CR Diary today. It showed up in my Google News alerts and frankly I was a little surprised by what I read in this intriguing post written by April.

I'm not sure who April is (although she did recently visit my blog and post a comment or two), but apparently she subscribes to the theory of calorie restriction and came across this blog post I wrote the other day about a new study about CR. She admits in her post, "I love his blog."

THANK YOU, April! I appreciate the fact that we come at healthy eating from two very different perspectives, but still agree that discussing the subject out in the open is, well, HEALTHY!

I like the way she describes my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog:

"Lots of entertaining commentary on low carb living, diet books, the gak that one is confronted with in ordinary life (check out the entry on Girl Scout Cookies!). The fact is, most people could benefit a whole lot from cutting their carbs."

WOW! A CR-supporter who also believes in reducing carbohydrate intake. Now there's a revolutionary concept from someone who hasn't allowed herself to become so jaded by the philosophy of pompous nutritionists and dietitians with a narrow point of view on health and nutrition that she was able to come to that conclusion on her own. Way to go, April!

What's her formula for weight loss? Cut out grains, up your protein to above 70 grams per day, and stop eating stuff with sugar in it (sodas, candy, etc.). If we all did that, then we certainly wouldn't have to worry about obesity and whose fault it is now would we? While she is concerned about the amount of fat I consume with my low-carb lifestyle, April generally agrees that it is an effective way to control your weight.

April admits that counting calories "isn't appealing ... for most people," but to her it isn't just about losing weight.

"If I wanted to just be thin, I wouldn't bother weighing and measuring my food, tracking my calories, or monitoring my nutrition every day (though I would occasionally check in with the software to make sure no hidden deficiencies had arisen). I'd just keep up with my high protein, low carb breakfasts, my flax oil, my calcium-rich nonfat dairy, and eating lots of veggies (hello kale!)."

Then why is low-carb blasted by so many low-calorie advocates, April? That's what gets my goat the most about this wonderful way of eating that you seem to agree is great for weight loss. If people need to deal with their weight, why can't CR supporters be happy for those people who choose to start livin' la vida low-carb? I just don't understand their persistent vehement opposition to low-carb living for weight loss.

But April is a different breed as are so many of her CR friends because they have never had to deal with weight issues. And they have made low-calorie eating their lifestyle change and are happy with it.

"We're in it for life-extension [and it takes] an unusual level of self-discipline," she writes in her blog. "Our priorities are different from people who just want to lose weight and keep it off. We're willing to put more effort into our diets, nutrition, and even occasionally feeling hungry, because our goal is staying younger longer. It would be silly for someone who was just interested in losing weight to keep up my current lifestyle."

Okay, now that's a different angle I've never heard before. Eating low-calorie for the sake of extending life and being willing to be hungry often is something April is okay with. She's certainly wired differently than I am, that's for sure. :) If I am hungry, then I'm gonna eat. If I get ravenously hungry (which I don't anymore since I started my low-carb lifestyle), then I will binge eat! Me and hungry don't do so well, no matter what the alleged benefits of allowing my body to go through that are.

For people who struggle with their weight and have for just about their entire life, I'm sure they think people like April are from another planet. It's all we can do just to resist eating chocolate cake, much less lower our calories to the extent that April and CR supporters would have us do.

But for weight loss, April agrees that "low carbers have a lot of good advice."

"My first changes on CR were cutting out bread and pasta, cutting all drinks except for red wine, and ceasing to put sugar in my coffee. Now, I rarely leave the house without 29 grams of egg white power protein in my body. And it has made all the difference."

So you could say that April is livin' la vida low-cal, low-carb. And she's happy with that because she believes it will help her live a longer life than she would otherwise live.

"I am willing to put more effort into my daily diet and nutrition, plan my exercise carefully, and hang out with strange, geeky people in pursuit of this goal. It's a question of priorities. If your priority is getting thin and staying thin, cutting out unnecessary, nutrient-less carbs and upping your protein and unsaturated fats will probably get you there. If you're interested in looking forty at seventy, you'd better look into CR."

Maybe it's just me and perhaps I'm still too close to being 410 pounds to know what the heck April is talking about, but I'm just glad to be at a "normal" weight for the first time in my life. It's like that old me is gone now, but I've been transported into this new body to start all over again and to learn new habits I never knew existed.

Could restricting my calories work for me? I contend that it already is working for me as a result of my low-carb lifestyle. The satisfying low-carb foods that I am eating are contributing to the consumption of less calories, and so I'm getting the benefits of a CR way of life already. As my nutritional needs evolve in the coming years, perhaps I'll buy into this concept that April subscribes to regarding low-calorie eating.

For now, though, I'm just glad I'm not 410 pounds anymore! :)


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Perhaps April can share some of her ideas with us? I would like to hear how CR teaches that calorie-restriction would be healthy and even health-promoting. To be sure, I am not rediculing it, just curious - never heard of it. Not that I even remotely think I could live with it. Personally I think keeping my metabolism up by eating sufficient quantities (and quality) is better, but I would love to hear about the underpinning concepts.

1/18/2006 3:52 AM  
Blogger Mary Robinson said...

I am one of Dr. Fontana's CR lab rats - one of the 25. Most CR folk are low carbers. I eat 100g a day on average. If you want to get your vitamins, minerals and protein from 1100 calories a day, you are not going to get it from bread! I have a blog too - Us CR folk are not suffering any more than you are. Most of us don't have hunger problems and we feel fabulous. You may be low carb and CR - or just low carb. If you are CR too, then your body will kick into hormesis-mode and switch its gene expression over to repairing yourself. I sweat I've gotten younger over the last 5 years!

1/18/2006 9:36 PM  
Blogger April said...

Hi Jimmy!

You are so sweet! Thank you for your post!

Just one tiny correction: I battled my weight before I came across CR, and like you had some crazy experiences with ultra low-fat diets. When I embarked upon my CR journey just about two years ago, I weighed 137. That's a lot for a 5'2" woman! I am not and have never been "naturally" skinny. While I haven't suffered from as extreme weight issues as many, I know what it's like to be overweight, hate my body, and feel terrible. So I can definitely understand the motivation to lose weight, feel healthy, and look great!

Lots of my CR friends advocate a low carb, high protein, high in unsaturated fats diet. In fact, I know very few who follow anything remotely lowfat. I'll send you a link to one of my old posts on how being involved with the CR Society changed me from the "Priestess of the High Carb Darkness" to a girl who eats 100 g of protein most days!

Keep up the great work!

To answer Science4u1959, the best resource for the beginner in the study of CR is the books of Dr. Roy Walford, a pioneer in the science. Check out for a listing, or just grab _Beyond the 120 Year Diet_. Scientists have known for almost 100 years that mammals on restricted calorie diets *without compromising nutrition* live longer, often much, much longer than normally fed animals. Some of us humans are giving it a shot!


1/19/2006 10:21 AM  

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