Low Carbohydrate Intake Equals
Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.
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
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 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.