Most people assume that the low carbohydrate craze started with Dr. Atkins. Actually, more than a hundred years before Atkins promoted his low carbohydrate diet, a gentleman named William Banting wrote a book called Letters on Corpulence. In his book, he talked about losing weight by consuming a diet high in fat. During World War II, DuPont also suggested that using high fats and low carbohydrates in dieting would result in quicker weight loss.
The public, however, didn’t really pick up on this advice until the 1990s, when the Atkins Diet blazed onto the scene. It was quickly followed by other plans that advocated low carbohydrates in dieting such as The South Beach Diet and The Zone Diet.
Eaten regularly, carbohydrates will NOT lead to weight gain, unless (like any food group) they are eaten to excess. Eating too much of anything and not burning it off through physical activity will lead to weight gain. With that said, weight for weight, carbohydrates provide fewer calories than fat or alcohol. It's also what you add to the carbohydrates that bump up the calories. For example, the margarine or butter we put on the bread and the cream or cheese sauces we add to pasta. If you want to lose weight, cut down on the added fats, not the carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an important part of any healthy diet.
Sometime back most of us accepted the formula for weight loss which called for foods low in fat. Imagine my amazement when I stumbled upon the Atkins Diet and learned about the high fat, low carbohydrate approach in dieting.
Low carbohydrate diets will cause you to lose weight because they restrict kilojoules or energy. This approach to eating starves the body of the nutrients it needs and can cause major metabolic disturbances to the body. There is nothing special about the proportions of protein to carbohydrate - there are just fewer kilojoules consumed in these diets, which causes the weight loss.
The basic principle of any low carbohydrate diet is that carbohydrates cause weight gain. This is misleading. You gain weight if you consume too many kilojoules (or calories) - it doesn’t matter whether they are from carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
When we eat carbohydrates, the level of sugar (glucose) in our blood increases. This “free floating” glucose can damage the body unless it is allowed into the body’s cells where it acts as energy. The body then produces insulin, the key which “unlocks” the door to the body’s cells. Glucose that is not needed for energy is stored as fat.
Foods high in fat but low in carbohydrates do not raise the glucose level in the bloodstream. Therefore, the release of insulin is suppressed. As the body breaks down fat to use as energy, a substance called ketones is released into the blood stream. People who use low carbohydrates in dieting refer to this state as “benign dietary ketosis.” Although not considered life threatening, people experiencing benign dietary ketosis may report headaches, nausea, and other minor symptoms. Their urine will also change in appearance and odor.
So, do lower carbohydrates in dieting actually work? The Magic Eight Ball says, “Signs are mixed.” Studies have consistently found that low carbohydrate dieters lost weight more quickly than their low-fat counterparts. By the end of a year, however, this advantage had completely vanished. Furthermore, the majority of both groups of dieters had abandoned their diets and were well on their way to gaining back every pound they had lost, and then some. Over the long haul, then, the low carbohydrate diets are not any more effective, nor are they easier to maintain, than any other type of diet.
Obesity is a problem that troubles many people in the United States. It is only natural to want a quick fix. But the low carbohydrates in dieting is only a temporary solution at best. The best way to lose weight is to do exactly what nutritionists have said all along. Eat fewer calories than you take in and get regular exercise. It may not be as quick or as flashy, but in the end, this is the best way to reach your goal.
Substitute whole wheat pasta for regular pasta
Substitute brown rice for regular white rice
Add wheat germ and oats to your cereal
Add chopped fruit to your cereal, salads and stews
Serve beans, lentils and extra vegetables with your main meal
Substitute bran flakes for frosted flakes
Substitute whole wheat bread for regular white bread
Substitute rice cakes for cereal/granola bar
Substitute whole grain or whole wheat baguette for French bread
The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates into glucose and the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin to help the glucose move from the blood into the cells. Carbohydrates are the only fuel source for many vital organs, including the brain, central nervous system and kidneys.