Just Say No to Carb PhobiaWritten by Dave Soucy
Anyone who has been in a grocery store recently knows that food companies are tripping over themselves in rush to introduce “low carb” versions of everything from bread to candy to soda to cereal. Do not think for a minute that these companies are motivated by health interests of consumers. The reality is that they are mainly concerned with wallets of consumers and will market anything that they think a gullible public will buy. Low carb junk food is still junk food.
I know some of you reading this may already be raising your defenses because you have lost weight by cutting your carb consumption. Let me first congratulate you on your weight loss, and secondly say that this is not an anti-Atkins or anti-South Beach piece. This article is simply meant to educate readers on reality of carbohydrates, “good” carb choices vs. “bad” carb choices, what they do, why your body needs them, and how to make better nutrition choices than food company marketing efforts want you to.
The first thing to understand is that carbohydrates provide body with its main source of fuel, glucose (blood sugar), which is stored in muscles and liver as glycogen. Any muscle contraction, whether during exercise, getting out of bed, or blinking an eye, is fueled primarily by glycogen. So, for those of you engaging in resistance training, this should immediately point out fact that you need carbs for fuel in order to maximize your efforts in your resistance program. The next fact to understand is that your brain (which burns more calories than any organ in body) and nervous system can only use glucose for energy. This is why, especially in early or induction phases of carb restricted diets, dieters often feel sluggish and less alert than normal. By cutting out carbs, you are cutting off your brain’s main source of fuel.
Some of you are probably thinking, “That’s exactly what I want, because now my body will need to burn fat for energy!” Yes and no. Yes, your body will burn some fat for energy; however it will also generate glucose by breaking down protein stores in muscles, organs and other tissues. This will severely compromise tissue growth, repair, and maintenance, and as discussed in previous articles, slow down your metabolism. Certainly, that is not result you are looking for. As I said, this is not an anti-(insert your favorite low-carb guru here) piece. But, truth is, carbohydrates are a nutrient, and a nutrient is defined as a “substance that an organism must obtain from its surroundings for growth and sustainment of life”. So, does it make sense to follow a program that calls for wholesale abandonment of vital nutrient? Of course not. What is needed is an understanding of difference between supportive, quality carbohydrates that provide essential nutrients and fuel, and overly processed and refined carbohydrates that provide empty calories and support fat storage.
They Said It on TV, So It Must Be TrueWritten by Dave Soucy
Lose 30 pounds in 30 days! Lose weight without effort! Eat anything you want, and still lose weight!
Everywhere you look – magazine covers, print ads, radio, TV infomercials, internet – headlines like those above, promoting latest weight loss sensation, abound. They are impossible to avoid. Whether it is for latest diet craze, magic pill, or infomercial gadget, we are inundated with a large daily dose of weight-loss-made-easy promises. And these ads obviously work, as American Obesity Association estimates that American consumers spend over $30 billion per year trying to lose weight. Some estimates even put figure higher, at over $50 billion.
Every day, in quest to achieve results claimed in ads, people question which of these diets, supplements, or gadgets really work best. It is a question that can best be answered with another question: If any of these products or diets really worked, why is it that, according to Center for Disease Control, currently 65% of adults in this country are overweight? The truth is, while ads work wonderfully, products do not. Let’s face it, if any of them did what ads claim, nobody would be fat! We would all just pop a pill, or stop eating bagels, or use Suzanne Somers’ latest gizmo for just 7 minutes a day, then run out and buy smaller clothes. Have you ever stopped to wonder why all of “After” pictures in those ads have “Results not typical” stamped on them in really small print?
If these products do not work, why do we spend billions of dollars on them every year? There are a number of reasons, and some of main reasons combine to create a very compelling force which drives people to make emotional spending decisions, when logic would dictate that they should know better.
* Overweight people have often tried dozens of different weight loss programs and some become desperate for a solution. * People want to hear that there is hope. * Very clever marketing, often disguised as science, reaches these people with offer of that hope. * Given that most people do not understand science behind how body works, they are willing to believe that this deceptive marketing actually is based in science, and hope they desire can be theirs for just 3 easy payments of $39.95.
We are a society that wants instant gratification, and with a simple phone call and our credit card number, that weight loss is just a new, exciting miracle pill or best-selling diet book away.
Sadly, only thing consumers are losing is money. Let’s focus on myriad of fad diets out there. Many of you will think I am crazy for saying this, but for vast majority of people looking for long term fat loss, health, and fitness, diets simply do not work. Regardless of which book you run out and buy, in most cases calorie restricted diets, while showing short term weight loss on bathroom scale, in long term will lead to a slower metabolism and greater body fat than dieter started with.
Think about it. We all know someone on a diet. How many of those people are dieting for first time? Probably very few. Who doesn’t know a dieter who can list all of ‘great’ diets he has been on? “Oh, in ’89 I lost 23 pounds on Cambridge Diet, then in ’92 I lost 27 pounds on Scarsdale Diet, in ’95 I lost 30 pounds on that grapefruit diet, I did The Zone in 2000 and lost 16 pounds, then in ’02 I did great and lost 24 pounds on Atkins, but now I think I’m going to do South Beach Diet because I need to lose some weight.”
One more diet and this person should weigh about 34 pounds. The unfortunate truth is that just about every time someone attempts weight loss with a diet based on calorie deprivation, they will end up gaining back weight they lost, and then some. Low carb, low fat, nothing but grapefruit…. It does not matter what kind of diet you choose, because behind marketing hype, they generally all have one thing in common: The dieter is restricting calorie intake. A quick science lesson is needed to understand how our bodies react to a calorie restricted diet. First, when a dieter severely cuts back on their caloric intake, especially by cutting out carbs, they will quickly deplete their glycogen stores. What is glycogen? Well, when carbohydrates are ingested, they break down into sugars that are transported by bloodstream and stored in muscles and liver as glycogen. Glycogen is one of main energy sources used by our bodies. An important fact to know is that every gram of glycogen stored in our muscles stores approximately 2.4 grams of water with it. So, by restricting carbs and depleting muscle glycogen, dieter also releases a lot of water. This is one of main reasons scale will show a large loss of weight when one initially goes on a diet. Unfortunately, goal should be to lose fat, not water which body needs.