Thursday, October 05, 2006

Farewell To The Atkins Low Carb Diet

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Farewell To The Atkins Low Carb Diet

Atkins Nutritionals recently announced that they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It seems that the low carb craze was nothing more than just a passing fad. Well my friends I have come to both praise and bury the Atkins Diet.

I first discovered low carb diets about 15 years ago -- well before their recent popularity. My first introduction was by way of a book entitled The Endocrine Control Diet. Like the Atkins Diet and other low carb diets for that matter, it was based on a severely restricted carbohydrate intake - less than 50 grams of carbs per day. You put your body into a state of ketosis and force it to burn fat instead of glucose.

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to drop weight on the diet. If memory serves correctly, I dropped 15 lbs in little over a week. Sure, a portion of it was water and muscle weight, but I also dropped quite a bit of body fat. I could tell it was fat because my waistline shrunk substantially.

The Endocrine Control Diet was strict about keeping carbs low and remaining in a state of ketosis until you reached your weight loss goal. This was tracked on a daily basis by peeing on Keto Strips to make sure you were still in ketosis. I stayed on the diet for about 2 months before reverting back to my former diet. The interesting thing was that I was able to keep my weight down for another 3 months before getting back up to where I was before the diet.

I should mention that during the diet that I was lifting weights and doing cardio exercise on a regular basis. I sincerely believe that this factor was vital in retaining lean muscle mass while dropping as much body fat as possible while on a calorie restricted, low carb diet.

In the intervening years I tried other low carb diets that were all variations on the same theme. The one constant for me was keeping up with my weight training and cardio exercise. Each and every time I was able to drop 15 20 lbs in as little as 3 weeks and keep it off for at least 3 months after stopping the diet.

The biggest problem I have with low carb diets is that Im personally unable to stay on them for more that 3 months at a time. Its just too damn hard! Lets face it I like my carbs. Being of Italian extraction I was raised on pasta and bread. I also love Chinese cuisine with extra rice and have a fondness for potatoes. All of these foods are taboo on a low carb diet!

In the end, a low carb diet is not very realistic or very sociable for that matter. Ive never been too worried about the health effects though. Ive had my cholesterol checked both on and off the low carb diets and there have been no variation in the readings even when Ive consumed extra fat during some of the diets. My total cholesterol has always hovered around 200, which could be lower, but is the cutoff for a normal level.

Now that I know the power of a low carb diet to quickly take off weight, it will always be part of my fitness arsenal. The real secret is to combine the diet, and any diet for that matter, with a program of regular exercise that includes both weight training and cardiovascular exercise.

I think the best approach is to cycle your diet plan like professional bodybuilders do. Target a period for when you want to be at your leanest like the summer months at the beach or a high school reunion or wedding and start a low carb diet about 2-3 months out. Youll hit your peak right when youre ready to go back to your normal eating habits and you can count on staying lean for several weeks afterward.

The real secret is to always stay within 10-15 lbs of your fighting weight and know that you can get there in a hurry with a low carb diet.

Rich Rojas

Elliptical Trainer Reviews and Fitness Ideas

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Fad Diet Popularity

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Fad Diet Popularity

A common question among weight loss professionals...

If fad diets don't work,
why are they so popular?

People are often willing to try anything that promises to help them lose weight because they want to look or feel better. Regardless of what professionals would like to think, dieters want one fit in the clothes they wore two years ago. It rarely has anything to do with improving health. Fad diets exploit this fact and drive a multi-million dollar industry.

Quick and easy weight loss appeals to all dieters. The quick fix of a fad diet draws the attention of dieters almost effortlessly, while professionals struggle to spread the word about weight loss through long-term changes in eating habits and regular exercise. What can we do?

We continue to educate the public on the real science of weight loss and dieting. The diet basics of healthy weight loss must continue to be supported and taught by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and other health care providers.

The Diet Basics of Healthy Weight Loss

1. Lose weight by losing fat (which excludes all quick weight loss plans)

2. Gain Muscle (keep the resting metabolic rate from dropping)

3. Practice good eating habits (that can keep you thin)

Fad diets also become popular because many of them do work for a short time. In many cases, this is because when you stop eating certain types of food or eat special combinations of foods, you are getting fewer calories than you normally would. You are also paying more attention to what you are eating.

However, its likely that much of the weight you lose is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. Also, most people are not able to keep up with the demands of a diet that strictly limits their food choices or requires them to eat the same foods over and over again. People who use fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight that they lost.

Here are some simple guidelines for recognizing a fad diet:

* Diets that claim to help you lose weight very quickly (more than 1 or 2 pounds per week). Remember, it took time for you to gain unwanted weight and it will take time to lose it.

* Promise that you can lose weight and keep it off without giving up "fatty" foods or exercising on a regular basis. If a diet plan or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

* Base claims on "before and after" photos, instead of solid evidence from clinical trials.

* Offer testimonials from clients or "experts" in weight loss, science or nutrition. Remember that these people are probably being paid to advertise the diet plan or product.

If you want real testimonials, ask to read the reference page used when writing the diet.

* Draw simple conclusions from complex medical research.

* Limit your food choices and don't encourage you to get balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.

* Require you to spend a lot of money on things like seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.

Let's keep fighting for the truth...the diet basics of healthy weight loss. At some point, the truth will be heard...I hope it's not too late for some.

Healthy Living!
Michael A. Smith, M.D.
The Weight Loss Professional

Additional Information is available at Dr. Smith's Healthy Weight Loss page.

Dr. Smith is the primary physician and consultant for the Weight Loss Professional Website. His interests include preventative medicine, the genetic etiology of obesity, and several others too numerous to list. Please visit his Website at and let him know what you think.

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Exercise and Low Carb Diets Make Poor Partners

Over the last twenty five years the most common questioned asked me by frustrated exercisers, has been what exercise routine will get me the body I desire? My answer is always the same. They need to start exercising better judgement and learn that exercise alone will not solve their body composition problem. I believe the number one reason for starting an exercise program is weight reduction, even before fitness and health concerns. Exercise by itself is a poor weight manager and it increases the need for better nutritional requirements. I believe I would receive very little disagreement that a combination of nutrition and exercise is the answer to improvement in weight loss ( fat loss ), fitness and health risk concerns. With obesity reaching epidemic rates and the drop out rate of most health clubs remaining high this article intent is to lay the foundation why exercise and low carbohydrate diets are poor partners.

Over the last three decades I have seen extreme changes in the macro nutrients ( proteins, carbohydrates and fats ) combinations in our quests for the ideal body. Everything from high carbohydrate, low fat, high protein, to the current low carbohydrate craze has bombarded us, though the failure rates in managing our weight continue to rise. The problem lies in our bodies ability to adapt to change, especially extreme change. If your goal is to lose fat you must provide your muscle enough quality fuel without being over fueled. This is especially true if your goal to lose fat includes exercise. The secret is not found in elimination of macro nutrients, but in management of them. Understanding how to fuel your muscles prior to exercise sessions and replacing fuel after workouts is critical or your body will break down muscle for fuel.

Understanding how our muscles use the calories we eat as fuel for muscle contraction is the first step in knowing what to do and not to do. A basic nutritional knowledge tells us that proteins repair and rebuild cells, carbohydrates energize cells and fats provide hormonal foundation for cells.

When we lack balance in protein, carbohydrates and fats are bodies adjust and can use all three as a source of fuel for muscle contraction and cellular energy. Though energy is needed for all cellular function, the focus of this article is muscle contraction and body composition. All muscle contraction derives energy from adenosine triphosphate or ATP. The primary source of ATP comes from glucose, which is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen ( glucose and water ). Muscle contraction during anaerobic activity ( resistance training ) can use glycogen directly to form ATP. The process is anaerobic glycolysis, meaning it can use the glucose as energy with very little oxygen ( 90% glucose, 5% oxygen and 5% fatty acid ).

Our muscles only store enough ATP for short periods of muscle contraction, when depleted leads to muscle failure. The rest period between weight training sets allows additional ATP to be produced. During early stages of aerobic exercise, ATP is again created primarily from glucose until the heart and lungs provide enough oxygen to the muscles to allow fatty acids to be used to create ATP. So there you have it during resistance training and the beginning stages aerobic training the primary source of fuel is glucose.

This supports my claim that low carb diets and exercise make poor partners. To uncover why, we need to quickly look at the concept behind low carb diets and how they work. Any diet that provides 100 grams or less of carbohydrate daily. This article classifies as low carb diets. This will quickly deplete the glycogen stores in the muscle and liver. This by itself is testimony that our muscles primary source of fuel is glucose. Fatty acids stored in the adipose tissue ( fat cells ) are now released into the blood and processed by the liver and some are turned into glucose ( gluconegenesis ) and some remain fatty acids and both provide ATP for muscle contraction. One of the by products of this process is ketone bodies which can provide energy to brain and nervous system. The problem gluconegenesis ( non glucose turned into glucose ) provides fuel to the muscle less efficiently than glycogenesis ( glucose ). The end result is increased muscle fatigue, decreased muscle power, which leads to poor athletic performance.

A recent study performed at the University of Connecticut showed that exercisers who switched from a balanced diet ( proteins, carbohydrates and fats ) to a low carb diet experience the following drops in athletic performance. There was a 7 - 9 percent drop in muscle power and 6 percent drop in VO2 max of cardiovascular performance. Another factor to consider is the recuperation of muscle between workouts is decreased on low carb diets. So why would someone go on a low carb diet, especially when exercising? Because the initial weight loss that comes from the glycogen depletion is believed to be fat loss. We have become so focused on weight loss, that any weight loss is seen as good. As identified earlier in this article glycogen is a mixture of glucose and water and the majority are stored where? You guessed it, the muscle. A large percentage of the initial weight loss is coming from muscle loss.

I dont think any exercisers desire is to have smaller muscles as a result of their exercising. The goal of exercise should be to improve body composition, the percentage or ratio of muscle to body fat. This can only be accomplished by losing fat without the loss of muscle tissue. Maintaining muscle mass is vital to sustainable weight control. The following steps will protect your muscles as your losing fat, while reaching your ideal weight and ideal body composition.

FAT LOSS COACH Keys to losing FAT without losing MUSCLE

1. Cycle fat burning days with recovery days.

The secret to losing fat without losing muscle starts with not being too aggressive or extreme with your reduction of carbohydrates. You need carbohydrate management, not carbohydrate elimination. Over the last 12 years, with more than 10,000 clients Ive found by reducing carbohydrates by 20% of daily needs and within 48 hours replenishing the glycogen in the muscle by eating 100% of daily carbohydrate requirements, allows for fat loss, without muscle loss. In essence you have two fat burning days, then a recovery day. By doing this youll have the best of both worlds. You will experience fat loss that averages between 1-2 pounds weekly, while muscles are being well fed. You never drastically deplete the glycogen stores in the muscle so athletic performance is not affected like on a low carb diet.

2. Exercise on days where you are receiving more carbohydrates.

Exercising on days where muscle are getting more carbohydrates for fuel and taking days off from exercise when you are being aggressive about fat loss. One of the most difficult thoughts for exercisers to accept is that most of the results from exercise come when we are not exercising. They come after we exercise and in direct response to how the muscles receive nutrition after exercise.

3. Exercise 1.5 - 2 hours after eating when blood sugar levels and insulin levels are slowly declining.

As insulin levels increase in response to a rise in blood sugar after a meal, the cells are in an anabolic state ( receiving nutrients ). Insulin is the hormone that feeds are cells. As blood sugar levels drop, insulin levels drop and the pancreas produces the hormone glucagon and nutrients stored in the fat cells are released to the blood and used for energy. The management of this blood sugar rise and drop is important. If blood sugar levels go to high insulin feeds the muscle cells and deposits excess into fat cells. If insulin levels go too low, the muscle cells are being under fed. A slow rise in blood sugar provides good nutrition to the muscles and a slow drop allows glucagon to take from the fat cells. Timing your exercise to this blood sugar decline allows the muscles to receive from the fat cells more effectively. It is important to never exercise without having at least one meal left in your day so that muscles can recuperate from exercise.

Final Thoughts

Long term success managing weight starts with the right approach. If you are overweight, the real problem is that you have too much body fat for how much muscle you possess. A body composition solution is needed, not just a weight loss diet. Your goal should be to lose fat without losing muscle or sacrificing your health in the process. To maintain your results your eating habits must develop life long character. Low carbohydrate diets provide initial weight loss, but at the high cost of losingmuscle and reducing metabolism. They are inadequate sources of fuel to support exercise activity, which is vital in maintaining good health. The risks to your health long term makes low carbohydrate diet's poor solutions for life long weight management.

About The Author

By Charles Remington
Customized Fat Loss System
1303 Highland Ave
Cheshire, Ct. 06410

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Eat Healthy for Life

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Eat Healthy for Life

Lets not talk about diets. Diets are punishment like being sent to bed without dinner. Diets take some of the fun out of living. Many diets or supplements are harmful to your health or even dangerous, if you have certain risk factors.

Forget any past diet failures and push aside any guilt or shame you harbor about your weight. Its time to look forward; not back. You have the whole future in front of you to get better every day. It's time to eat healthy.

This is not a short term fix. Isnt your health more important than your weight? Lets be sensible and talk about eating healthy for life.

Dont get me wrong diets do help many people lose weight for a time. Almost any restrictive diet can give one a jump start on weight loss; and many people are so encouraged by the rapid weight loss that they are motivated to stay on the diet.

Studies have shown that the only diets that work are the ones you stick to. That why the majority of people who successfully lose weight on a restrictive diet run into trouble when they move to the maintenance phase. So again I say, you need a plan to eat healthy for life.

As with most things in life, theres no ONE solution that suits everyone. When choosing to eat healthy, a plan for the rest of your life, you want to find one that YOU can live with.

If your choice of plan starts with an initial (less than nutritious) restrictive phase, consider what supplements you ought to take during that phase. Also be sure that the maintenance part of the program meets generally accepted nutritional guidelines or that you can make it do so with minor adjustments or supplementation. You definitely need to think long term when choosing to eat healthy.

What Weve Known All Along

With all the diet programs, books, ads and fads these days, its easy to lose sight of some really basic facts of some very convincing long term health studies that can guide us to healthier eating.

1.Calories In vs. Calories Expended

The human body is a marvelous machine. It can be pushed to great lengths, like pre-exam all-nighters, or to perform amazing feats, like running marathons or scaling mountains. But it is a machine. It needs to be cared for and properly maintained.

The more it is abused or pushed to the max, the greater the chance that parts will break down prematurely or beyond natures ability to repair them. Like any machine, it needs fuel to operate. Give it improper or insufficient fuel and it wont run as well, if at all. Give it too much fuel and that will gum up the works. Now heres where the analogy breaks down.

With a man made machine, excess fuel simply overflows and makes a big mess. Unfortunately, the human machine has the amazing capacity to create unlimited new storage tanks for excess fuel even to the point of death. Further, once that excess fuel is stored, it is difficult to dislodge but not impossible. Thats the Calories In part of the equation.

The fuel you take in is burned by every single movement you make: breathing smiling, kissing, walking, dancing, chewing and even digesting your food. The more you move, the more fuel (calories) you burn.

The part of your body that has the ability to move other parts is muscle. Ergo the more muscles you have and the more you use them, the more calories you burn. In fact, every ounce of muscle you add increases your basal metabolism the rate at which your body burns fuel.

One pound of fat contains 3500 calories. If you cut 250 calories from your daily diet and burn another 250 calories with exercise, you can lose one pound in a week!

The most efficient way to eat healthy operates on both sides of the equation. Monitor your fuel intake of course; but just as importantly, get moving to burn that fuel. And better yet, build new muscle to boost your metabolism the rate at which YOUR body burns fuel. This way youll burn more calories every hour of every day for the rest of your life.

2. Secrets of the Worlds Healthiest Populations

Global epidemiological studies have identified some unusually healthy populations and linked their health to diets that differ in significant ways from the typical Western diet.

Japan, which has some of the world's lowest rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes has a diet which is very rich in carbohydrates. The Japanese enjoy rice, vegetables, beans, and fruits at most meals.

They have a diet that is very low in saturated fat and red meats, but high in fish which contain protective omega-3 fatty acids.

Other recent and very interesting studies lead to more healthful eating tips. The Mediterranean food pyramid is based on research showing low rates of heart and other chronic disease in certain countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea compared to the West.

Research has isolated key dietary habits that are believed to account for the difference. (Monounsaturated) olive oil is the preferred fat and fat consumption (at 40% of total calories) exceeds the American Heart Associations recommended max of 30%.

Whole grains and pastas form the base of the pyramid, so this is not a low carb eating style.

The choice of proteins in order of preference is cheese and yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs and (last and least) red meat. Further, proteins are grouped at the top of the pyramid so they account for only about 15% of daily caloric intake.

Its also important to note that the Mediterranean lifestyle incorporates more natural physical activity as distinct from the Western variety of mandatory exercise. You know, the I just gotta get to the gym today or I have to miss my weekly tennis game Saturday. Now what can I do?! variety.

If youre interested in following any low carb plan, limit the time you follow the restrictive phase and take the information above into account when you plan your maintenance program.

3. Health Risks of Long Term Restrictive Diets

In choosing to eat healthy for life, be sure to consider well-founded dietary advice such as recommended by the American Cancer Society for optimal cancer prevention:

Eat five or more (optimally nine) servings of fruits and vegetables daily; include fruits and vegetables at every meal and for snacks. Aside from the fact that many fruits and vegetables are good diet food because they have low calorie density (high water and fiber content), these foods are loaded with phytochemicals which work to prevent illness, cancer, and other diseases.

Choose whole grains in preference to processed grains and sugars. Choose bran, whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and whole grain cereals as well as beans and legumes.

Limit consumption of red meats, especially processed meats and those high in fat.

Current estimates are that nearly 33-50% of cancers can be prevented through a eat healthy diet. The recommendations above come from hundreds of research studies which show a link between cancer prevention and a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Hundreds of studies also support the link between a high fat diet, high intake of red meats and increased incidence of cancer

4. Magic Pills

Dont be taken in by some of the full page ads you see with before and after pictures that promise weight loss just by taking some magic pill. In some of them you can even tell that the same head has been pasted onto the fatter body or the faces look dissimilar enough that you think, Thats NOT the same person.

If youve read this far you know about the calories in, calories out equation. Sorry, but its simple math and simple physics. A pill alone will never do it.

However, that doesnt mean that there are no little magic pills that can help you lose weight in the context of a healthy eating and exercise plan. There is a lot of exciting research showing that certain supplements can boost and sustain your metabolic rate as you age, increase muscle tone and even help the body develop more muscle, such as Green Tea Extract or DHEA.

Weight loss often results when people switch their focus from dieting in order to get thin to choosing foods for health. This is especially true if they also pay heed to the other side of the calories in, calories out equation and get moving.

Common sense strategies, yes, but these are the only ones proven to work long-term. Now, are you ready to Eat Healthy for Life?

This article is for informational purposes only. It does not purport to offer medical advice.

Jean Bowler is a life long fitness freak. She was a ballet dancer and teacher, a private fitness trainer and more. Visit her site, for advice on diet and nutrition, skin care and more.

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