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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Low Carbohydrate Intake Equals Weight Loss?

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Diets low in carbohydrates and high in protein have become quite a fad in the last couple of years, primarily as a result of several best selling books like The Atkins Diet Revolution, Enter The Zone, and Sugar Busters. Although the books are written by physicians and a Ph.D. in biochemistry, they have very little support from people trained in nutrition.

Every healthy diet around the world is based on the bulk of it coming from complex carbohydrates. Asians don't get fat eating bowls of rice.  Bananas are not fattening.  Have you ever seen a fat monkey?  Almost no civilizations evolved eating high protein and low carbohydrate diets.

High protein diets tend to be high in fat, particularly saturated fat. High protein diets stress the kidneys and may contribute to high blood pressure over the long term. These diets also restrict fruits and vegetables.  However, more fruits and veggies are exactly what racewalkers need.  When we figure the actual calorie count of a typical day's menu from one of these books, it comes out to 1500-1700 per day. Eat anything you want in this calorie range, combined with moderate physical activity, and you will lose weight.  Although these diets don't advertise this - basically they are fairly low-calorie diets.  You cut out a bagel here, a banana there, and you will lose weight.  It's not the bagel or the banana that's fattening, it's the fact that most overweight racewalkers are eating too much food and too large portion sizes.

These diets temporarily cause you to limit calories by limiting the food you're "allowed" to eat on the diet.  Hence - temporary weight loss.  We should be eating more fruits and vegetables - ALL KINDS including bananas, grapes, and watermelon!  And certainly more complex carbohydrates like high-fiber grains.

High-fiber grains like whole wheat bagels, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta are always better choices than processed, white flour. However, even white flour is not fattening.  Even white bread is complex carbohydrates.  Anything you overeat (protein, carbohydrates, olive oil, Snackwell Fat-free cookies) will cause weight gain if you eat too much.  The best thing about these diets is that they make you cut your food intake by making you think that certain foods are "off limits."  The worst thing about these diets is that they do not teach you how to eat healthfully for the rest of your life, and also they encourage you to cut out things that you should be eating - high complex carbohydrates that a racewalker needs for high energy.  Instead of cutting out your bread, potatoes, and pasta, why not instead cut down on high fat cheese, high fat meat, fried snacks like chips, pastries, butter, mayo, and the like?  That's the way to lose body fat and to be healthy.

Forget the distorted biochemistry they present; the low carbohydrate diet programs just don't hold up against the majority of research. You might as well learn to eat sensibly because another fad diet is sure to pop up soon.  And naturally, an extra walk wouldn't hurt.

2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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