Friday, January 28, 2011

What is wrong with Low Carb diets?

So this has been in my head for a while and I thought I'd get it down. I hear the same objections over and over again to low carb and no matter how often you swat down the objections with facts and studies, the same things come up over and over again. So I thought I'd get a blog post out so maybe next time someone uses one of these, I can just point them in this direction. This post may get edited from time to time to add new information I glean during my readings and such:

1. Low carb diets, you only lose water weight - This objection has a basis in truth, you do lose water weight initially as your body depletes it's glycogen stores. However, who wants to be carrying around excess water weight? One of the things that is thought to cause high blood pressure is excess water in the system that puts pressure on blood vessels.

2. Low carb diets are bad for your kidneys - This comes from the idea that excess protein in a diet can put stress on kidneys causing damage. May be true but traditionally low carb diets are not high in protein but high in fat. Yes they may be slightly higher in protein than a low fat diet but the amount of protein in the diet is still in the safe range.

3. Low carbs are high in saturated fat and that'll increase your risk of heart disease - Well, in 2010 Ron Kraus released a meta-study of saturated fat and concluded there was no real evidence of the link of saturated fat to heart disease. In fact, saturated fat has been shown to, in the absence of excess carbohydrates, lower blood triglyceride levels, raise HDL (good cholesterol) and improve the LDL profile (large fluffy LDL increases, small dense decreases).

4. Low carb diets only work by restricting calories the same as other diets - Pretty much every study I've seen that honestly is testing a low carb calorie unrestricted diet against a low fat calorie restricted diet shows the low carb produces better results in terms of weight loss and blood lipid profile. Now it MAY be that the subjects on a low carb diet ate fewer calories than the low fat group but the important part of this is that the low carb group are told not to restrict calories whereas the low fat group are told to restrict calories. So that tells us that IF the low carb group is eating less calories, they are doing so voluntarily. IF the low carb group are eating as many or more calories than the low fat group, well that means there is a metabolic advantage to eating low carbohydrate, otherwise why would they lose more weight?

5. Atkins has been around since the 70's so if it worked, why do we have an obesity epidemic - I LOVE this one which I've read recently in a couple places. It makes no sense whatsoever. The prevailing wisdom has been to cut calories and fat from your diet since the 70's. The Atkins diet was derided as unsafe and ineffective by the media and medical community. This is probably the dumbest thing I've read to try to show that a low carb high fat calorie unrestricted diet doesn't work.

6. Low carb leads to Ketosis which is dangerous - This is easy. Ketosis is fine, Ketoacidosis isn't. I have read one study (don't have it at my finger tips) that showed low carb with Ketosis isn't as effective as a low carb diet without ketosis. I think there may be something there. However, I should also note that it is ketogenic diets that are being studied as a possible treatment for cancer and Alzheimer's disease and are currently being used to treat epilepsy. I don't know of low fat diets being looked at for any of these...

7. Low carb diets don't have enough fibre - Well, that's almost up to the person following the diet but in low carb we are encouraged to get our fibre from vegetable sources rather than grains and in the absense of sugar and grains in the diet, it is possible that the fibre needs aren't as great as they are when those things are in the diet.

8. Sure you lose weight on a low carb diet, but you gain it back afterwards - Really? If I lose weight on a low carb diet, after I go off the diet and return to 'normal' eating I will gain the weight back? Phew, thank god that's not the case with calorie counting and/or low fat diets. I mean we've had such great success with people counting calories, losing weight and NOT gaining back weight when they stop watching what they eat and go back to their old habits. This is another of the dumbest reasons for thinking low carb diets don't work.

That's it for now but I'm sure I'll think of something and add to this blog later or have a part 2.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, Fiber is over-rated. It is something that can be put in a box or bag and sold, so lets over push its importance and sell a billion tons of it. I seek no added fiber, only waht I get eating real vegetables- not grains and I poop better than ever