Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Carb Crazed

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Carb Crazed

Low Carb diets have become as popular as apple pie (although apple pie wouldnt be allowed!). Everywhere you go the message is low carb, decrease your carbs, or no carbs. Unfortunately this message oversimplifies many of the healthy eating habits that nutrition experts have been teaching. The truth is, there are no quick fixes or easy answers when it comes to healthy eating, and one size never fits all.

The idea that carbohydrates are bad or unhealthy is a misunderstood message that has taken over our thoughts on good nutrition. Low carbohydrate promoters push the theory that carbohydrates are to blame for the nations obesity problems. The truth is overeating and general lack of exercise are mostly to blame for the obesity epidemic. Think about it this way, if the theory was true that carbohydrates cause weight gain then every person including famous athletes who eat carbs regularly would be obese. It just doesnt add up.

The Truth About Carbs:

Proponents of low carb diets claim that when carbs raise blood sugar and insulin levels, the process can make our bodies store fat more readily. This is true, but did you know that all carbs are not created equal?

There are different kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex as well as low glycemic and high glycemic. This is where most people fail to understand better carbohydrate choices. There are no bad food choices just those foods that should be eaten daily and those that should be eaten once in awhile.

Fruits and Vegetables:

While it is true that fruits and vegetables are made up primarily of carbohydrates, the majority of them have a low glycemic index (glycemic Index is a measure of how quickly a food increases the blood sugar). This is because fruits and vegetables contain fiber which naturally keeps blood sugars level. Fruits and vegetables are also the most important food groups in our fight against chronic diseases. They are loaded in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals which act like our own personal arsenal against chronic diseases. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research has compiled over 4000 studies and has concluded that eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day can decrease our cancer risk by 20%. Eliminating fruits and vegetables from your diet can lead to potentially serious health problems such as heart disease and cancer.

Whole Grains- The Important Difference:

Both whole grains and refined grains (sugar, white bread, pasta, etc) are high in carbohydrate but whole grains, found in foods like oats, barley, brown rice and whole wheat breads and cereals, contain all parts of the plant kernel thus keeping their important fiber content intact. Refined grains are stripped of these nutritious components during the milling process. Yes, it is true that eating large amounts of refined carbohydrates on a daily basis can drive sugar levels up quickly. However, the fiber in whole grains slows the rise in blood sugar and therefore the insulin response.

In fact, eating small amounts of whole, complex carbohydrates throughout the day can keep blood sugars at a more even level preventing insulin rises and weight gain. Research shows that people whose diets are high in whole grains and fiber decrease their risk of diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease.

Portion Control:

The flip side of the coin is that most people consume extremely large portion sizes of carbohydrates, eating more refined carbohydrates than the healthy complex carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain. The answer, however, is not to give up all carbohydrates. It is not all or nothing as we learned from the low fat craze. We need to learn how to balance our diets to provide enough energy and nutrients that we get from all of our food groups throughout the day. By removing all carbohydrates from your diet you are setting yourself up for potential health problems not to mention bad breath (side effect of ketosis), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and low energy levels.

Very low carbohydrate diets would not be of concern to health professionals and nutrition experts if they werent so significantly low in important nutrients and so high in saturated fats. Recent studies have found that low carbohydrate diets are deficient in as many as 19 vitamins and minerals and as many as 11 micronutrients. According to Dr. Bruce Ames, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkley; vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as these can lead to DNA damage that can cause you to age prematurely and could lead to cancer and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons. There is further evidence that these diets can lead to other diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. It is important to remember that these diets were developed for weight loss and not healthy eating guidelines.

Bottom Line:

Choose small amounts ( cup to 1 cup) of whole grains with each meal. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day and you will be able to manage your weight and your health at the same time! People who have achieved lifelong weight loss have done so by making lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet and increasing their daily activity, not by following fad diets.

Most importantly, dont depend on fad diets to give you nutrition advice. They generally look at a small piece of the puzzle instead of looking at the whole picture. There is no need to increase your health risk to lose weight. Choose to eat a balanced diet and increase your activity so you can lose weight and maintain optimal health at the same time.

Meri Raffetto, 2004

Meri Raffetto is a Registered Dietitian and a recognized professional in the area of nutrition and wellness. She has developed online weight management programs to help people get off of diets and get into way of life. For more information or to sign up for her free newsletter, visit http://www.reallivingnutrition.com

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Can a Fad Diet Ever Be Useful?

What is a fad diet? Walking the less resistant way seems to be a part of our nature. Of course most over-weight people want to get rid of their excessive pounds yesterday, if possible. Many more or less serious weight loss e-diet or online diet makers know this and try to take advantage of a person's various diet needs. The weight loss diet industry is so big and competitive that dietary sensations can seem necessary to stand out from the crowd. This is what we call fad diets.

Fad-diets often promise to bring instant weight loss. Most fad-diets are not diets for life. They are normally short time diets, not balanced at all and are not designed for obtaining a sustainable weight loss. What a crash diet might do for you however, is get you started with your dieting. A fad crash diet might be the flying start of the weight loss proccess that you need. If you only use fad diets as starters, like a catapult for changing your eating and exercise habits permanently, it shouldn't do you any harm. If you decide to start up a fad or any diet for that matter always consult your physician first. I take no responsibility whatsoever for any health damages it may cause you.

Don't over-exert yourself whether it be exercise, working and other things that may require an effort.This might be too stressful on your system even if you're feeling fine during the diet. If you get an acute attack of hunger during the dieting, drink a glass or two of water. It will fill up your stomach and remove the worst hunger feeling. Another tip is to suck on ice when you're dieting.

If you haven't yet built up your will power, stay away from social activities like going out dining with friends, birthday or wedding parties with lots of food and alcohol when dieting. Since the duration of most fad diets are very short, it should be possible to avoid such situations. Try to limit the period of dieting to maximum 7 days at a time. Most of these fad diets are not meant to be kept for longer periods of time. Non balanced diets will not supply you with the nutrition your body need to function normally.

When the diet period is over, don't run to the closest MacDonald and eat 3 Big Macs with triple servings of french fries and a gallon of Coke or sit in front of your TV eating Pizza and Beer. Celebrate the end of your dieting, but not with food.

Now you can start up with a balanced diet. This crash diet hopefully gives you a flying start of a sustainable and healthy weight reduction.

Terje Brooks Ellingsen is a writer and internet marketer. He runs the website 11-Weight-Loss.net. Terje enjoys to give advice and help people with fad diets for fast weight loss like negative calorie food as a starter for severe over-weight people.

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Best Fad Diets

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Diet Articles

Best Fad Diets

What are the best fad diets? It's a question I'm often asked. Unfortunately, I'm not really in favour of fad diets, so it's a difficult one to answer.

It's not that I'm against all fad diets on principle. But if there's one message I'd like you to take away from my website, Obesity Cures.com, it's that there's no silver bullet. No one shot cure ... no best fad diets.

That's the message I hope you take away from this article.

Your ideal weight loss solution should comprise a basket of cures, each chosen to suit your specific needs. A diet, fad or not, may be one ingredient of that basket. But one size does not fit all.

However, if you are going to choose a fad diet as part of your weightloss basket, you should at least be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

In this article, I'll outline some of the main categories of fad diets and some of the pros and cons of each.

High-Fat, Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Millions of Americans have joined the low-carb craze and started high-fat, low-carb diets such as the Atkins Diet and the Zone Diet. They are made up of about 60% fat, 10% carbohydrate, and 30% protein. These fad diets say you can eat high amounts of fat and protein while getting very low amounts of carbohydrates in the form of vegetables.

The main premise of the low-carb diet is that a diet low in carbohydrates leads to a reduction in bodys production of insulin.

The end result is that fat and protein stores will be used for energy. So you stuff yourself full of unlimited amounts of meat, cheese, and butter, and only eat a small portion of carbohydrates.

But here's the catch...

People who start the diet usually lose a great amount of weight, but its not permanent weight loss. Instead of burning fat, they lose water and precious muscle tissue.

Furthermore, these diets are low in several nutrients and contain excess amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, substances that increase the risk of heart disease.

Plus, regardless of what they claim, the enormous amounts of protein put a strain on your kidneys.

Not exactly a promising contender for the best fad diets title!

Moderate Fat Diets

Next, there are the moderate fat diets. Moderate fat diets include diets like Weight Watchers, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, Herbalife and Jenny Craig.

These diets are made up of about 25% fat, 60% carbohydrate, and 15% protein. They encourage the intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and essential fatty acids found in foods like olive oil and salmon.

These diets are usually nutritionally balanced if the dieter eats a variety of foods from all categories. For example, Weight Watchers operates on a point system where foods get a number of points based on calorie, fiber, and fat content.

Dieters get a specific number of points they can use for the day. While its not encouraged, they may choose to spend most of their points on carbohydrates instead of balancing it out. This could lead to deficiencies in nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc.

Herbalife counters this shortcoming with a range of nutritional shakes and vitamin products.

If followed properly (and backed by judicious supplementation), these diets are probably the most successful for losing weight and keeping it off... A possible contender for the best fad diets title.

Low and Very Low-Fat Diets

Finally, you have your low-fat and very low-fat diets. Fad diets in this category include the Dr. Dean Ornishs Diet and the Pritkin Plan, among others. They are made up of about 13% fat, 70% carbohydrates, and 16% protein.

These diets are mostly vegetarian diets and dont recommend eating a lot of meat. Like the low-carb diets, you can eat unlimited amounts of certain foods. Because you cant eat a lot of meat, these diets are deficient in zinc, vitamin B12, and essential fatty acids.

Also, it is so restrictive that people find a hard time staying on it for life and end up gaining their weight back.

So, that's a brief outline of some of the main fad diet categories. And, yes, you're right I haven't told you definitively what I think are the best fad diets. But read the above carefully and you'll see I've nudged you in a certain direction.

That's as far as I'm prepared to go without knowing more a bout your specific circumstances.

This is really something you need to decide for yourself. Your needs will be different from others.

While rapid weightloss diets are generaly inadvisible, perhaps you have valid reasons for needing to lose weight fast. In which case, maybe a low-carb diet, despite its many disadvantages, is what you need right now. You can always switch to a different program later.

The choice is yours...

But don't decide right now.

To help you make a better informed choice, I've devoted a page on my website to fad diets with links to summaries of the more popular ones - http://www.obesitycures.com/best-fad-diets.html

And be sure to browse the rest of the site while you're at it. You might well find something else that suits your needs better than even the best fad diets.

Alan Cooper is a journalist with 20 year's experience and the publisher of ObesityCures.com, a site with the ambitious aim of being a "one-stop-shop" for impartial information on obesity and weight loss solutions - including fad diets, prescription weightloss pills and natural weight loss aids.

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Fruit Diets: Facts For Fitness

Low Carbohydrate Diet Revolution -- A History

Fad Diet Popularity

Learning How to Become a Good Loser