Saturday, November 17, 2007

Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating

The high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet has been the longest uncontrolled nutritional experiment in history.

The results have not been good.

Perhaps you’ve noticed.

Perhaps you have been one of its victims. You’re unable to lose weight, or if you have lost, it certainly hasn’t been easy. You found yourself constantly fighting cravings, you were hungry a lot of the time, and you suffered with feelings of deprivation. You felt fatigued, like you were running on empty, and were still always battling the bulge, mostly unsuccessfully.

Maybe, like a lot of low-fat, high-carbohydrate dieters, you’ve noticed that your hair is dry, your nails brittle, your energy low, and your vitality sapped. And guess what? For all that, the weight still doesn’t come off, or if it does, it comes back on with a vengeance and you’re right back where you started, except this time you feel even more discouraged.

Or maybe you’re lucky enough to have never been on this delightful seesaw that I’m describing. Maybe you’re just curious about all the fuss that’s being made over low-carb diets and you want to learn more about how they work. Maybe you’re thinking that you could stand to knock off a few pounds and are interested in low-carb dieting but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re already convinced that low-carb diets are for you but are concerned about some of the health implications that well-meaning people have warned you about.

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Living the Low-Carb Life will help you understand three things:

1. what low-carb diets actually do to and for your body and how they do it

2. why some programs work for some people (and don’t for others)

3. how you can adapt what you discover in this book to your own lifestyle

While I’d love to think that everyone who reads this book will devour it from cover to cover (for its scintillating content and wealth of information), realistically I know that, with the possible exception of my girlfriend and my mother, few people will approach it that way. So I have designed Living the Low-Carb Life to be used like the I Ching—open it anywhere and it will give you information you want.

I imagine that some of you will be interested in understanding more about the different popular diet plans, how they work, how they differ from one another, and what they offer. You guys should go straight for chapter 3—Fourteen Low-Carb Diets and What They Can Do for You—find the plan or plans you are interested in, and read about them. You may find that reading further will spark some questions, which you’re likely to get answered in chapter 6, Frequently Asked Questions. Maybe, as you dig deeper into the book, you’ll find yourself wanting to know more about the hormonal mechanisms in the body that drive weight gain and weight loss; you will find those issues addressed in chapter 2, Why Low-Carb Diets Work.

Some of you may have already been on one of the plans discussed in chapter 3 but want more in-depth information about the questions, concerns, and controversies you have been hearing about, for example, cholesterol or ketosis or bone loss or kidney problems. You might head straight for chapter 5, The Five Biggest Myths About Low-Carb Diets. When you get those concerns addressed, you may want to go back to chapter 2, Why Low-Carb Diets Work, to read more about the science behind low-carb eating and how it actually does its good work in the body.

The permutations are endless.

I also expect that there will be some dyed-in-the-wool low-carbers who have already experienced a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss, and simply want some tips for staying motivated, not getting bored, finding new things to eat, or breaking plateaus. All that information will be found in chapter 6, Frequently Asked Questions, and chapter 7, Tricks of the Trade: The Top 50+ Tips for Making Low-Carb Work for You.

Because I have designed this book to be extremely user-friendly and because I want you to be able to skip around as you like, some of the information and issues will be discussed in more than one place. For example, the subject of ketosis, which is so central to the Atkins diet and has been such a focus of criticism from the establishment and misunderstanding in the media, is discussed in three places. You will get a brief overview of ketosis in chapter 2, but a much more in-depth discussion, which answers the criticisms leveled at ketogenic diets, appears in chapter 5. You will also find an abbreviated discussion of ketosis in chapter 7, since ketosis is definitely one of the topics about which I get the most questions when it comes to low-carb dieting.

Here’s a brief guide to what you will find in Living the Low-Carb Life.

Chapter 1: The History and Origins of Low-Carb Diets

Guess what? Low-carb dieting did not begin with Atkins! Low-carb diets actually date back to 1864, when William Banting wrote his famous Letter on Corpulence (in essence the very first commercial low-carb diet). But Banting’s diet wasn’t known as a “low-carb” plan; in fact, there was no such label until the USDA decreed in its 1992 food pyramid that the perfect healthy diet for Americans includes six to eleven servings of grains and starches per day. From that time on, any program that disagreed with this extremely elevated high-carb orthodoxy of the dietary establishment was by definition disparaged as “low-carb.”

This chapter covers the breadth and evolution of low-carb diets over the decades, including the discovery in 1940 by Dr. Alfred Pennington that some individuals simply cannot metabolize carbohydrates as efficiently as other people do; Dr. Herman Taller’s Calories Don’t Count (the high-protein reaction to the fashionable mania for counting calories); Dr. Irwin Stillman’s The Doctor’s Quick Weight Loss Diet; and, of course, the introduction in 1966 of the CEO of all low-carb plans, the Atkins diet. Told against the background of “mainstream” nutrition, the chapter also considers the philosophy of the ├╝ber-dean of high-carb proselytizers, Nathan Pritikin, and his heir apparent, Dean Ornish.

I hope you’ll also begin to see why stances on nutrition can be so political, and gain a better understanding of where the lines in the sand are currently drawn regarding theories of weight loss and healthy diet.

Chapter 2: Why Low-Carb Diets Work

Low-carb diets are based on the fact that food has a profound effect on hormones—including the fat storage and fat release hormones. The hormone that gets the lion’s share of attention, with good reason, is insulin, but there are others that come into play. The foundation of the low-carbohydrate movement has been the theory that controlling these hormones with your food choices is at least as important for weight loss as calories are (the establishment continues to insist that “it’s the calories, stupid”). This chapter discusses:

• how insulin operates and why regulating it is central to the theory behind all low-carb diets

• controlling blood sugar

• insulin resistance

• the role of insulin in heart disease and why a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce your risks

• hypertension (high blood pressure) and how it can be reduced with low-carbohydrate eating

• obesity and how low-carbohydrate diets can help

• type 2 diabetes and low-carbohydrate diets

Chapter 3: Fourteen Low-Carb Diets and What They Can Do for You

In this chapter, fourteen of the best-known and most popular diet plans are exhaustively analyzed and compared. Not all of them are truly low-carb programs (for instance, the Zone diet), but if they have been portrayed that way in the press, you’ll find them in this section. At the end of this chapter, you will know the exact differences among the various programs, and you’ll have a much better idea of which ones speak to you and which ones leave you cold. The format for each discussion allows you to see what the plan is in a nutshell and gives an in-depth look at how the plan works and the theory behind it. You’ll also learn whom it might be good for (and who should look elsewhere). Finally, I give you my evaluation of each plan (Jonny’s Lowdown) and a rating of zero to five stars.

The fourteen plans and their architects are:

1. The Atkins Diet—Robert Atkins, M.D.

2. The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet—Rachael Heller, M.D., and Richard Heller, M.D.

3. The Fat Flush Plan—Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S.

4. The GO-Diet: The Goldberg-O’Mara Diet Plan—Jack Goldberg, Ph.D., and Karen O’Mara, D.O.

5. The Lindora Program: Lean for Life—Cynthia Stamper Graff

6. Neanderthin—Ray Audette

7. The Paleo Diet—Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

8. Protein Power—Michael Eades, M.D. and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.

9. The Scarsdale Diet—Herman Tarnower, M.D.

10. The Schwarzbein Principle—Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.

11. Somersizing—Suzanne Somers

12. The South Beach Diet—Arthur Agatston, M.D.

13. Sugar Busters!—H. Leighton Steward et al.

14. The Zone—Barry Sears, Ph.D.

Chapter 4: Supplements and Diet Drugs

In this chapter, we’ll review the major drug treatments for obesity and overweight—phentermine, Meridia, and Xenical—and consider the arguments for and against them, as well as review the supporting science. We’ll examine the vast number of vitamins and supplements that are marketed for weight loss, such as 5-HTP, chromium, and L-carnitine. Which ones actually work and which are bogus? And if they do work, how do they work? What exactly do they do in the body? Here you’ll find the science behind the advertising and discover whether there are any specific vitamins and minerals recommended for people following a low-carb lifestyle. You’ll get the real scoop on controversial herbs like ephedra as well as information about the new “ephedra-free” fat-burning formulas. And you’ll find out the number one supplement for weight loss.

Chapter 5: The Five Biggest Myths About Low-Carb Diets

There are a lot of common beliefs about the dangers of high-protein or high-fat diets. Does a high-protein diet cause osteoporosis? How about damage to the kidneys? Is ketosis a dangerous condition that should be avoided at all costs? Doesn’t eating all that fat lead to heart disease? What about cholesterol?

In this chapter, I’ll share what the science really shows.

Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions

Got cravings? Constipated? Bored with chicken and vegetables? This chapter reviews some of the methods that low-carb dieters use to combat common problems and make their program work for them. We’ll talk about the use of glutamine to fight sugar cravings, mineral supplements such as potassium to fight muscle cramps, how much is enough when it comes to water, and if any of the “fat-burning” supplements on the market actually work. For easy reference, FAQs are organized by topic, including ketosis, food and water, plateaus, exercise, and more.

Chapter 7: Tricks of the Trade: The Top 50+ Tips for Making Low-Carb Work for You

The tips are organized into several categories, including, food and drink, motivation, and general topics. You’ll find more than fifty of the best insider tricks for making the low-carb lifestyle—and a weight loss program in general—easier to stick with and more enjoyable, too.

Chapter 8: Controlled-Carbohydrate Eating: Putting Together Your Program

Now that you know the nuts and bolts and have decided that low-carb living is for you, how do you put it all together? Many of the authors of the top low-carb diet books disagree vehemently on some issues—coffee, artificial sweeteners, the number of grams of allowable carbohydrate, the need for ketosis, and the timing of meals, just to mention a few—and agree on others. But there are many basic principles that can be extracted from the literature as a whole. These principles can be used to craft an individual lifestyle program that incorporates the basic tenets of low-carb eating for vibrant good health and ongoing weight loss and maintenance. This chapter tells you how to individualize and customize your own plan to create a personalized low-carb lifestyle using the principles discussed in Living the Low-Carb Life, as well as how to put the low-carb lifestyle into practice in the real world.

Resources and Support for a Low-Carb Lifestyle

In this section, you will find the most exhaustive and complete listing of resources and information pertaining to low-carbohydrate living ever assembled. Virtually every website worth visiting has been written up, and you’ll find an amazing guide to the personal sites of people who have successfully transformed their lives and their bodies with a low-carb lifestyle. (Make sure you check out some of the before-and-after pics!) You’ll find sources for research; ways to calculate your body mass index; food databases in which you can look up calories, carbs, fat, protein, and fiber; articles about cholesterol and cooking oils; information on exercise; an extensive reading list; suggested newsletters; and a comprehensive section related to food, recipes, and cookbooks both online and in print. You’ll also discover dozens of Internet support groups that exist for the low-carb dieter, with comments on what to expect when you get there.

Excerpted from

Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to The Zone
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