That Lowfat Diet May Cause Weight Gain

( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2004 06:14 PM EDT

All carbohydrates are not created equal. For many people, a lowfat, high carbohydrate diet is not the best option for weight loss. For at least one-third of the population, this diet—even when followed religiously—has been a weight loss disaster. A minority of doctors even believe this diet can be harmful for your heart.

In August 1997, the debate reached the pages of the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors Katan, Grundy and Willett point out that while concerns were mounting over high fat in the diet, “the perception grew that carbohydrates were innocuous.”

First, they point out that lowfat, high carbohydrate diets lower the good HDL cholesterol as well as the bad LDL cholesterol. “Replacement of fat by carbohydrates has not been shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and benefits are unlikely, because this change similarly lowers HDL and LDL cholesterol, and reduces the intake of vitamin E and essential fatty acids.”

The three doctors also point out that studies of people who are on a fat-restricted diet show very little weight loss. In fact, the number of overweight people is increasing steadily while the total calories derived from fat are decreasing.

New York complementary medical doctor Robert Atkins was one of the first physicians to champion the cause of the low carbohydrate diet. Atkins believes that obesity is caused by a chronic state of high insulin secretion. High insulin levels cause sugar to be stored as fat and the body becomes less sensitive or resistant to the effects of insulin. This hyperinsulinemia is a major risk factor for both heart disease and diabetes. Normally, there is a balance in the body between the two hormones, insulin and glucagon. Glucagon causes sugar to be released into the blood stream from fat tissues while insulin removes it from the bloodstream and stores it as fat.

New York doctors, Richard and Rachel Heller, authors of The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, found that excessive carbohydrate consumption leads inevitably to addictive behaviour. A vicious cycle ensues in which high carbohydrate consumption leads to high insulin levels which in turn leads to a drop in blood sugar levels, leading to increased cravings for carbohydrates which in turn leads to more carbohydrate consumption and, eventually, to obesity.

Rachel Heller was massively overweight. After 20 years of agony, ill health and being blamed by her doctor for her failure to lose weight, Heller finally found an effective diet that balances and redistributes carbohydrates throughout the day to create a stable, constant level of insulin secretion. On the diet that finally worked for Heller, you eat no carbohydrates for two meals a day; for the third meal, you eat a balanced meal with unrestricted carbohydrates at the same time every day.

Other diet books, such as The Zone, by PhD researcher Barry Sears, promote a diet that is low in carbohydrates with increased amounts of fat and protein. Sears maintains that this diet ensures a steady insulin level and good energy as well as weight loss.

Sears also emphasizes certain carbohydrates with a low glycemic index rating versus those with a high glycemic index rating. Glycemic index refers to the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream after a carbohydrate is eaten. Examples of low glycemic index foods are rye breads, slow cooking oatmeal, lentils, many vegetables and yogurt. Examples of high glycemic index foods are sugar, corn chips, rice cakes, puffed cereals of all kinds, cooked carrots, raisins and white rice.

What does all this mean for the average person? If you have consistently failed at every weight loss diet, consider cutting down on carbohydrates. It is especially important to eliminate sugars and refined and processed carbohydrates. This includes white bread, white pasta, sugar and refined flour products—this may be more important than reducing fat. The Truestar Weight Loss Plan uses a careful balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat to promote safe, long-lasting weight loss. Complete your profile now to get started.