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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Breaking Through Plateaus

Breaking Through Plateaus

I thought this article was appropriate seeing as so many people are trying to get lean for the summer.

Weight loss plateaus can be both mentally and physically taxing for anyone. Progress and results are what drives people and keeps them motivated to continue a healthy diet and exercise regimen. But what happens when you are doing all the right things and suddenly your results become stagnant?  Anyone that has lost weight has experienced a plateau in some form or another. Whether these plateaus last a week or a year, breaking through a weight loss plateau is crucial for your physical results and your psychological well-being.

 The Science Behind Plateaus

The progression from initial weight loss to a weight-loss plateau follows a typical pattern. During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.

A plateau occurs because your metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. You burn fewer calories than you did at your heavier weight even doing the same activities. Your weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with your now slower metabolism. At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, you need to increase activity or decrease the calories you eat. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss.

How To Overcome Plateaus

1. Make A Plan And Stick To It

Look back at your food and activity records. Make sure you haven’t loosened the rules, letting yourself get by with larger portions or less exercise. Track everything to ensure you aren’t cheating and you are sticking to the system and keeping yourself honest.

2. Change Your Workout

They say variety is the spice of life, and this holds true when it comes to your workouts. Without change you might find yourself dreading the monotony of regular gym sessions and simply lose motivation. Additionally, your body can become used to the same caloric burn and muscle exertion as it becomes more efficient at completing regular movements. Give your brain and brawn the wake up call they need by shaking up your usual routine with some new additions.

  • Try increasing the speed as you exercise and do short bursts of intense exercises (such as sprinting) for one to two minutes followed by small rest periods. These short bursts of anaerobic activity will stimulate your body to release human growth hormone, which helps to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass.
  • Maintain your body’s adaptation period by changing the intensity, duration, frequency and/or the mode of exercise and include interval training if necessary.
3. Pack More Activity Into Your Day
Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less, or try doing more yard work or vigorous spring cleaning. Little things like this will increase your overall caloric expenditure over an entire day.

4.   Calorie Cycling

This technique takes some pre-planning, but it could be just what your body needs. Cycle your calories by toying around with your daily caloric consumption. Maintain the same caloric intake over the course of a week, but eat 100 calories more one day, followed by 200 fewer calories the next day. Some folks call this the “zigzag” method, but no matter what you call it, this method disrupts your body’s equilibrium and will rev your weight loss engine. If you have been losing weight eating 1400 calories a day, eat around that many calories for three days. On the fourth day eat 300 to 400 calories more. Make sure those calories come from healthy foods mixing protein, carbs and fat. Those extra calories should not come from nachos and beer.

5. Spike Your Calorie Intake With One Meal A Weak

The human body will adapt to ANYTHING you do consistently over time.  This refers to weight training, cardio conditioning, and nutrition. Over time your body will adapt to the new caloric intake unless some type of adjustment has been made. Try offsetting your eating schedule by spiking your calories one meal a week by 400-600 calories. To increase your caloric intake on those “cheat meal days”, simply eat more nutritious food.  This will not only offset your metabolism, but will also keep your digestion and metabolism working optimally, ensuring a greater amount of fat-loss.

6. Cut Carb intake

Try reducing your carb intake to 50-100 grams per day to reduce insulin production and fire up your fat metabolism. Make sure that you’re eating enough protein for your weight (Shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) eating the right vegetables and snacking on high-fat foods to keep you feeling satisfied.

7. Find Ways To Keep Your Metabolism Elevated 

  • Eat six small meals a day. Eating small portions throughout the day will help keep your metabolism going. This is an extremely useful tactic in breaking your weight-loss plateau. Eat something when you wake up in the morning, perhaps a small omelet or some steel-cut oats.  Pretty much keep your meal times as normal; breakfast, lunch and dinner with a meal in between each and something for the evening.  Keep it higher in protein, small in calories, and nutritious.
  • Drink cold water. Drinking cold water can elevate your metabolism for several hours following completion.
  • Eat metabolism boosting foods. Things like cinnamon, curry, jalapenos, oatmeal, beans, green tea, ginger, grapefruits, apples, coffee, almonds, blueberries, watermelons and turkey can all help boost your metabolism.

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

From South Bend,

Kevin