The Carbing Down Of America There Are Some Lessons To Be Taken From The Lowfat Diet Craze

The lowfat diet didn’t work. Americans decreased their fat consumption over the past several years from 40{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} to about 35{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}. Their rate of obesity has risen from 12{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} in 1991 to as much as 33{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} in 2003. A whole lot of people are fatter than ever thanks to SnackWells and their ilk.
The common perception is that lowfat equals bad taste, but lowfat plus high sugar equals great taste. That’s the equation that has made Americans fatter. We ate lowfat foods because it was clear that fat made us fat, but that lowering the fat in foods would obviously lower the fat in us.

Wrong! That same thought process did not take into consideration that perhaps the sugar in these lowfat foods might have something to do with our ever-expanding waistlines. The lowfat food craze actually increased Americans’ calorie consumption per day by as many as 300!

A New Way of Thinking

Enter Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, which promoted a low-carbohydrate lifestyle.

By the way, Dr. Robert Atkins — the cardiologist who pioneered the theory of high-protein, low-carbohydrate dieting — didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. He had been around promoting his low-carbohydrate plan and getting blasted by the medical establishment for a long time — his first book was published in 1972.

The medical community, though, has finally seen the light and now realizes that weight loss and the resulting health benefits can be obtained from controlling carbohydrates, not eliminating the fat. It’s just too bad the good doctor is not here to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He died in 2003 as a result of head trauma from a fall near his office in New York City.

Eggs, meat, cheese, and heavy cream are relatively carb-free and are the mainstay of the Atkins lifestyle. One Dr. Atkins Diet myth needs to be dispelled. Just because eggs, bacon, steak, and heavy cream are allowed on the Atkins’ plan does not mean these foods should be eaten all the time. The trick is to cut the carbs, not load up the lard.

As a matter of fact, the Atkins Plan follows the FDA guidelines in regard to trans fatty acids, which are very dangerous to one’s health. Many Atkins critics have taken aim at the program’s liberal allowance of fat. However, the Atkins nutritional approach includes no heart-damaging trans fats.

As a matter of fact, on the Atkins Plan, trans fat-containing foods such as cookies, cakes, pies, margarine, and vegetable shortening are strictly prohibited. Butter, olive oil, and other healthy fats are encouraged.

But what about all that saturated fat found in meat, butter, and other animal products? Numerous studies have shown that, in the absence of a high-carbohydrate diet, saturated fats may offer other health benefits, even raising HDL. The combination of fat and carbohydrates seems to be the bugaboo here, not the saturated fats alone.

One caveat is that, once a low-carbohydrate diet has been undertaken and the first 72 hours has passed, hunger also seems to pass. Less food equals more satisfaction. A higher fat intake is one of the keys here, as fat satiates us and makes us feel full. That sense of fullness lasts longer as well.

On the other hand, a high-carbohydrate meal makes us feel sleepy, dopey, and stupid! You know what is said about American-style Chinese food: you are hungry an hour later — maybe because of the rice, noodles, and batter-dipped chicken fingers.

It all has to do with insulin and blood sugar levels. Blood sugar rises with high carb intake, and insulin rises with high blood sugar, which eventually can bring blood sugar down too low, which increases hunger — and the cycle starts all over again. This progression, of course, relates to a non-diabetic. The diabetic has his/her own set of problems, some of which the Atkins plan address beautifully.

Getting Hungry?

Speaking of foods that maintain the low-carbohydrate lifestyle, food manufacturers are getting smart. Lowfat didn’t work. They are putting back the fat and taking away the sugars. There is such a tremendous variety of tasty, low-carbohydrate products available: bread, pasta, ice cream, cereals, muffins, and candy, just to name a few.

Choice Health, in the Westfield Shops, specializes in foods that support low-carbohydrate living and the restrictions of a diabetic menu. Try carbing down — it works!

Suellen Duga and her husband, Doug Duga, are the owners of Choice Health in Westfield; (413) 568-8333.