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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You Don't Need A 'Carb Blocker' On Low-Carb

Why do people try to make livin' la vida low-carb more complicated than it needs to be?

This Daily India column was written by what I am sure is a well-meaning nutritional nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry named Kristy Haugen who urges people following a low-carb diet for weight loss to begin taking a pill called a "carb blocker."

I've never even heard of a "carb blocker" before reading this article, but it reminds me of all those so-called "fat blockers" that have been made popular since the low-fat diet came on the scene. In essence, these products are supposed to prevent the absorption of fat into the bloodstream which will allegedly help you lose weight. With the "carb blockers," I assume they do the same thing except with carbohydrates.

Let me tell you, though, I lost over 180 pounds and have kept it off without ever having to use a gimmick product like a "carb blocker." If you ask me, you are just wasting your time and your money on something that you probably don't need. That is, of course, unless you have money to burn and don't mind shelling out $25 for a bottle of 120 of these pills. But NOT ME!

Haugen, though, claims you NEED to take a "carb blocker" pill because restricting your carbs as much as you do on the Atkins or South Beach diets causes you to become unnecessarily "tired and easily fatigued" until the body gets used to the lower amount of carbs.

With all due respect to Ms. Haugen, THAT'S WHAT YOUR BODY IS SUPPOSED TO DO when you begin the low-carb lifestyle. Most of us who started a low-carb program were used to eating 600, 700, or even as many as 1200 grams of carbohydrates in a day! When you bring that number down to 20g as part of the Induction phase of Atkins or 0g as part of the Induction phase on South Beach, you body cannot help but react to the change.

Even still, this change is absolutely necessary to get the body to begin burning stored fat as part of the process of getting ketosis to work its magic. Until you get into ketosis on your low-carb plan, you WILL NOT lose weight. Is this process a hard thing to go through? Heck yeah! I thought I was gonna die the first day I was on the Atkins diet, but something incredibly amazing happened. After just a few short days, those feelings of being "tired and easily fatigued" went away and I have felt fantastic ever since. I'm no longer addicted to the sugar and carbohydrates that were ruining my health!

There is a long dissertation in this column attempting to explain why you NEED carbohydrates, but the premise of Haugen's argument is all wrong. She gets into the science of sugars and how they function in the body, but she conveniently neglects a very important process that I told you about recently in a blog post -- gluconeogenesis (GNG)!

With GNG, your body makes its own carbs for energy without the need to consume them. Most people erroneously assume that the body can only get energy from the carbohydrates they eat, but actually low-carbers burn fat for fuel and the protein they eat gets transformed into workable carbs in the body as well. In other words, you don't NEED to consume ANY carbohydrates for the body to function just fine.

Did you just somehow forget about that process, Ms. Haugen?

Reading her fancy schmancy scientific explanation about how the body has to have carbohydrates to use as energy could be quite convincing if you didn't know any better. That explains why she is no doubt highly successful at peddling her "carb blocker" products.

Haugen makes the statement that she believes "an extreme low carb diet isn’t the answer for weight loss."

What's "extreme" about low-carb or high-protein eating plans, Ms. Haugen? How do they, as you state, "put the body to the test?" While your carb intake begins at a lower level, it is quickly increased after a couple of weeks to a level where your body will still burn fat and help you lose weight while you get to eat lots of healthy carbs to nourish your body. That doesn't sound very "extreme" to me?!

If you want to talk "extreme," let's look at people like me who used to weigh an obviously unhealthy 410 pounds not that long ago. Some would say my health condition warranted an "extreme" measure to get my weight under control before my health declined or, even worse, I died. Remaining obese simply was NOT an option for me and the Atkins diet was a much better choice to help me recapture my life again.

Did my body get put "to the test" during my low-carb weight loss? You bet it did. But I came out on the other end one year later a new man with a new thin body ready to take on the challenges of the world without ever having to face the worries of being overweight again. Livin' la vida low-carb changed my life forever and it's doing the same thing for millions more who are committing themselves to this healthy way of life.

Calling carbohydrates "a necessary evil," Haughten recommends people take a "carb blocker" to help them get away with eating a few more carbs than they are supposed to have during their weight loss phase of the low-carb lifestyle.

NEWSFLASH: It don't work that way! If you want to see the results that come with being on low-carb, then you need to do low-carb exactly like it is written in the particular program you are on. Dr. Atkins didn't talk about taking a "carb blocker." And neither does Dr. Agatston.

While people like Haugen are quick to classify "carb blockers" as just "another option for weight loss," the truth of the matter is you can lose all the weight you need without ever having to let even ONE of these useless pills go down your throat. Don't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

I couldn't help but laugh at the very end of Haugen's argument FOR "carb blockers" when she wrote the following:

"However, permanent weight loss requires you to make changes to your lifestyle. If you do not change your lifestyle then no matter what diet or supplement you choose, weight loss is temporary and short lived. This also means that if you choose a low carb diet, make sure that this diet can be done. Many people fail the low carb diets because of extreme commitments."

You can't have it both ways, Ms. Haugen! Either you want people to put in the work to make low-carb eating habits become a regular part of their life or you want to give them a pill so they can get away with eating more carbs than their body really needs. I HIGHLY recommend the former as the MOST EFFECTIVE way to get people to sincerely change their lifestyle for the better.

As for whether or not the low-carb "diet can be done," I am living proof that it can and with GREAT success, too! It does take an "extreme commitment" to stay on this lifestyle despite all the voices of opinions that pervade our culture today, especially in opposition to livin' la vida low-carb. Unfortunately, Ms. Haugen, I would have to categorize you in that same group of people based on the ignorant assumptions you have made regarding low-carb living.

Send Kristy Haugen your comments about her column by clicking here. Tell her to take her "carb blockers" and put 'em where the sun don't shine! You just don't need 'em!

3-16-06 UPDATE: I thought I presented some fairly good reasons in support of my assertion that you don't need to take these "carb blockers." So imagine my surprise when I sent them a link to my column asking for a response and I get this generic e-mail from an anonymous person at Haugen's organization telling me I must have misinterpreted what she meant. Check this out!

Dear Jimmy Moore,

Thank you for your recent feedback. We apologize for your misinterpretation of Kristy Haugen's article. Unfortunately, it is
impossible to take everyone's side in any argument. Syndicating information to many different readers leaves any writer vulnerable to criticism as you probably know. Thanks again for your feedback. Have a great day.


Uh, no, I think Ms. Haugen was CRYSTAL CLEAR about what she wanted to convey in her article. She is of the belief that you NEED carbs and that you cannot survive unless you eat them. Her argument was shot down by the fact that gluconeogenesis is the process by why people who are livin' la vida low-carb get their carbs, and, thus, their energy.

Don't talk to me about syndication and trying to please different readers. JUST TELL THE TRUTH! Wouldn't that be such a refereshing change from the same old drab we are forced to look at from most of the media. Stand up for what is right about low-carb and stop telling me I need to do something else in ADDITION to good old fashioned low-carb eating.

If you haven't already written to Haugen and her group, then I think she needs to hear from more of us. Feel free to share any feedback you get.

9 Comments:

Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Her "scientific" explanation is just another load of crock and I will write her that too. She needs to hand-in that BSc as well.

The nonsense that is touted by some people ("professionals" that should know better) never ceases to amaze me.

3/15/2006 8:06 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Since when is South Beach zero carbs for Phase 1? Unless you are eating only meat, you are eating carbs. Coffee, tea, eggs, and cheese all have small amounts of carbs. When on Atkins, these carbs count toward your 20g total for the day. And of course veggies. On Atkins you should be getting 10-15g of net carbs a day from veggies. I hardly think South Beach would recommend cutting out veggies for two weeks.

3/15/2006 8:53 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

Here's what my "Diet and Fitness" magazine says about Phase 1 of South Beach (they have a feature article on it this issue).

"This phase lasts two week and is the strictest part of the diet. It lasts just long enough to resolve any insulin resistance you might have brought on by eating to many bad (mostly processed) carbs. Phase 1 doesn't have to be low carb if you eat the right carbs. This phase also permits amply portions of protein, good fats and the lowest glycemic index carbs for satisfaction and blood sugar control" (emphasis mine).

Seems to me it allows a lot more carbs than Atkins Induction.

3/15/2006 8:58 PM  
Blogger Lowcarb_dave said...

This carb blocker thing, seems to me to be the ultimate of scams.

That's all I have to say :)

3/15/2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

Hi, I just started reading your blog! Its great..I have been low carbing since 2002...

Anyway, like everyone out there who wants a piece of the Zillion Dollar Diet Industry, a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon, writing articles against the Low Carb Style. I don't think anybody would notice them if they agreed that a low carb life style is actually good for you.

Or they start their own diet. Like the "Stand on your head for three hours daily and Lose 10 pounds in 1 minute" Diet, lol.

I don't believe in taking pills (except vitamins) to take care of my excessive pounds. The low carb life style is most the natural way, its the best way to go.

Zoe Aguilar

3/16/2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Hi Jimmy Moore,

I am new to your site and caught this blog. I read Kristy Haugen’s article and after reading your rebuttal, I am a bit confused. I guess I don’t feel you back up you argument very well with facts and you seem to be shoving a lot of words in Ms. Haugen’s mouth.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I want to lose weight and be successful as you have. I just am completely fed up with gimmicks that do not work! I am having second thoughts about low carb dieting altogether.

Are you aware of the American Heart Associations position on high protein diets! Frankly, I am scared to make the commitment!

If you could take a look at two important articles I read and please elaborate for me:

http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11234

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/lcd.html

After reading these, I am not sure making a low carb, high protein commitment is for me or anybody I care about!

Please help!

Scott,

3/16/2006 3:11 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Scott,

I am a low-carber for over 10 years, and have done quite extensive research into nutritional science. If you doubt Jimmy's blog (which you really should not) then take it from me: the AHA (and ADA for that matter) are NOT the independant, unbiased "health" institutes that they pose to be: they will NOT give you the full truth, or even proper dietary advise for that matter. Heck, their chief scientific advisors even defend the sugar industry (a major "donator") as something that "does not make you fat"!

The fact is that these organizations are extremely well-"sponsored" by all kinds of vested interests with clear and demonstrable profit motives in mind, and certainly not your health.

Do yourself (and your health!) a favor and do your own research. Jimmy's blog is an excellent place to start, but there are far more resources: check out the many posts here.

I can tell you two things: a) the ADA and AHA "advise" is a unscientific load of crock, and nothing more: they do not have a SHRED (!) of real, hard scientific evidence for the highly biased and colored recommendations they make. Their advise will have you GAIN weight and make you sick, and b) once you have done your research, you will see that the low-carb dietary regimen countains ONE ESSENTIAL NUTRIENT all others LACK:

The truth.

Science, decades worth of real and rock-solid nutritional science by real-life, independant scientists and researchers, completely and irrefutably backs the low-carb way of eating. It is, in fact, the only intelligent, scientific approach to proper nutrition and dietary habits. And that's a rock-solid fact.

3/16/2006 6:49 AM  
Blogger Fat Burner Specialist said...

Hi. Great Blog. I am a fat burner myself

3/19/2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger bunny said...

OMG, okay I know this post is from 2006, but just this past spring during low carbing, I tried those carb blocker pills after a friend reccommended them (I used the Natrol brand with Phase 2, which is supposedly what you need to look for). Curiously, everytime I had them, my throat began to swell up and for a month I couldn't shake this "cold" that wasn't really a cold. After I stopped taking those pills, all the symptoms went away. I really don't think these carb blockers are good things to put in your body (plus they didn't work, they only stalled my weight loss). Everything I think of them I feel sick now. Just low carb it the natural way; no pills needed.

7/28/2008 4:20 PM  

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