Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

Low Carb vs Low Fat Diets

I read a great article on the Wall Street Journal that inspired this post.

Over the last 20 years marketers and food manufactures have coaxed consumers into believing that the cause of rising obesity rates is due to our surplus fat intake. Consumers make choices they believe are healthy based on “healthy labels” when in fact they are not.We’re bombarded with supposedly guilt-free options: baked potato chips, fat-free ice cream, low-fat candies, which people think are healthy options because they are marketed as “low-fat” or “natural”. Yes, a high amount of saturated fat and trans fat is not good, but healthy fats such as the monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3s have the opposite effect and are essential to a healthy/well-balanced diet.

Myth: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.

Fact: Saturated fats and trans fats are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. But monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are good for you, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease.

Myth: Fat-free means healthy.

Fact: A “fat-free” label doesn’t mean you can eat all you want without consequences to your waistline. Many fat-free foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and calories.

Myth: Eating a low-fat diet is the key to weight loss.

Fact: The obesity rates for Americans have doubled in the last 20 years, coinciding with the low-fat revolution. Cutting calories is the key to weight loss, and since fats are filling, they can help curb overeating.

In recent years people have started to figure out that fat may not be main contributor to rising obesity rates, but a surplus of processed carbohydrates may actually be at the forefront of our problems. Cue, the “low-carb” diets where consumers restrict carb intake to under 100g/day. A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal claims that “A diet based on healthy carbohydrates—rather than a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet—offers the best chance of keeping weight off without bringing unwanted side effects”… and I couldn’t agree more.

The Study

Goal:  The study was designed to look at the impact of the three diets on measures of energy expenditure, in addition to assessing hormones, fat levels in the blood and other health markers.

  • Participants followed a low glycemic food plan that focused on  fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The Study explains while people who follow a low-carb diet also lose weight effectively, they have trouble keeping it off and encounter unwanted side effects.
  • Participants were placed on one of three diets for a month: a low-fat diet limiting fats to 20% of total calories; a low-carbohydrate diet modeled on the Atkins diet, limiting carbohydrate intake to 10% of total calories; and a low-glycemic-index diet, which contained 40% of total calories from carbohydrates, 40% from fats and 20% from protein. Participants were then switched to the other two diets during two additional four-week periods.

Results

  • “The low-fat diet had the worst effect” on energy expenditure, Dr. Ludwig said. Participants on that diet also had increases in triglycerides, a type of fat, and lower levels of so-called good cholesterol. “We should avoid severely restricting any major nutrient and focus on the quality of the nutrient,”
  • The low-carb diet had the biggest boost in total energy expenditure, burning about 300 calories more per day than those on the low-fat diet—about the same as an hour of moderate exercise. But that bump came at a cost: increases in cortisol, a stress hormone, and a measure of inflammation called CRP, which can raise the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
  • Those on the low-glycemic-index diet burned about 150 calories a day more than those on the low-fat diet without any negative impacts on cholesterol levels or various hormones, making it the ideal diet, Dr. Ludwig said. The glycemic index measures the impact of carbohydrates on blood-sugar levels.

Conclusion and Takeaway

A balanced diet filled with healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates is ideal for loosing weight and keeping it off. Yes a low-carb diet can be effective, but you may develop other health risks, suffer from low energy levels, and risk  putting weight back on. Carbohydrates are used by our body as energy that can help sustain an efficient and worth-while workout. If your workout is jeopardized due to an nonavailability of adequate energy levels from carbohydrates then your exercise goals are compromised. Just to clarify; I am not advocating people go load up on pasta, breads, cereals, and other processed carbs. The key is to make sure the carbohydrates you do consume all come with a healthy dose of fiber and protein with a low glycemic index from things like fruit, vegetables, minimally processed oats and whole grains.

My Favorite Carb Sources

Quinoa

Steel Cut Oats

Black Beans

Source:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304458604577490943279845790.html?mod=e2tw

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
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The Best Additions For A Healthy Salad

The Best Additions For A Healthy Salad

The term “FAT FREE” is misleading because excess carbohydrates in your diet end up as excess body fat.

Dressings

This is the BIGGEST mistake people make when eating a salad. Picking the wrong dressing can transform a typical healthy dish into a saturated fat/sugar-loaded nightmare. Here are 2 things to be aware of when picking a dressing:

  • Serving Size– Don’t load up dressing on your salad. Measure out a serving size with a tablespoon to know exactly how many calories you are taking in.  Most people are shocked when they realize how small”1 serving size” is.
  • Ingredients– Dont be mislead by labels and disclaimers such as “reduced-fat” when choosing a dressing. These labels are not regulated by the FDA and the marketing gurus will say anything to promote their brands and products. Look for hidden ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, and fructose the are artificial alternatives to sugars.  As a general rule stay away from dressings with a long list of ingredients or additives.

What To Choose:

Balsamic Vinegar– 2 tbsp (which is all you need) of balsamic vinegar has 50 calories. Balsamic vinegar contains polyphenols, antioxidants that can protect the body from heart disease and cancer and has enzymes that break protein down into smaller amino acids that can be more easily absorbed by the body.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil–  A moderate serving of olive oil has the healthy monounsaturated fats that can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and has been proven to help promote healthy skin and hair.

Alternative Oils- Alternative oils such as coconut,  macadamia, or walnut oil will provide a healthy source of Omega 3’s and give you a variety from traditional olive oil.

Make your own– If you get tired of the balsamic vinegar and oil combo try this.

½ cup Greek yogurt
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp red onion, finely diced
Juice from 1 lime
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cumin

What to Stay Away From

Any pre-made salad dressings from the store like:

Ranch- One serving of ranch dressing contains approximately 140 calories and 14 grams (mostly saturated) of fat. Of the 140 calories, 130 are from fat. Don’t be deceived by the “low-fat” or “light” alternatives as they boast more unhealthy additives and sugars that are equally as bad.

Blue Cheese-Blue cheese dressing is a quick way to ruin a healthy salad. The average brand contains 152 calories and 15.6 grams of fat making blue cheese a diet blunder.

Italian-  With more than 14 grams of fat per serving and a hefty load of processed ingredients, Italian can be a real detriment to your diet.

Thousand Island– Another cream-based, fat-laden topping, Thousand Island dressing will cost you 140 calories and 14 grams of fat and  a long list of unknown ingredients.

French-French dressing is one of the worst salad additives around. Though it is technically a “vinaigrette”, French dressing still has an overwhelming 14.2 grams of fat and unnecessary sugars.

Caeser- The average brand contains more than 165 calories and 18 grams of fat. Even some of the “light” brands still pack more than 12 grams of fat per two tablespoons.

Great Additives 

Avacado- Many people dismiss the health benefits of avocado simply due to its high calorie count. However, avocados have 54% of your recommended daily value of fiber which gives this fruit much of its fat burning abilities. Just one avocado provides your body with vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, along with  1000 mg of potassium. (About twice as many as a banana)

Flaxseed- 1/2 tbsp of flaxseed gives you your complete recommended daily amount of omega 3’s and can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Flaxseed will help regulate digestion and contains 3 grams of fiber/serving. 

Eggs- Eggs are a great source of protein that are loaded with vitamins, including vitamin A, potassium, and many B vitamins like folic acid, choline and biotin. Very few foods share the same diverse nutrient makeup available in a single egg.

Walnuts- A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. Walnuts are a great source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. 

Black Beans- Black beans are very high in fiber, folate, protein, and antioxidants, along with numerous other vitamins and minerals.

Edamame-These legumes pack as much protein as most animal products, without the unwanted saturated fat. Being loaded with fiber makes them filling, refreshing, and great a alternative source of protein too add in your diet.

Artichokes- The artichoke is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable that is a great natural source of antioxidants. According to the USDA, one medium artichoke is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, and a good source of folate and magnesium.

 Conclusion

Create your salad base with some sort of healthy/dark green leaf such as spinach, kale, arugula, or mixed greens. Add some of the ingredients listed above with some lean protein and top it off with a healthy dressing to create a great meal that will provide essential vitamins and minerals. Incorporating meals like these are crucial to a well balanced diet and will help contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin