The media is exploding with coverage of a new study that shows a low carb diet is superior to low fat for weight loss and to reduce your risk of heart disease. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, put scientific weight (forgive me!) behind the popular notion that to drop pounds, we have to cut carbs.
Historically, we’ve been on a low fat and fat free craze that has paralleled the rise of obesity in our country. The more we load up on low fat ice cream, fat free milk, low fat cookies, the fatter we become. What gives? Well, it turns out that highly processed carbs and sugars seem to be a bigger culprit in the obesity epidemic than we realized. Fats aren’t the devils they were made out to be. Healthy fats, we now understand, should be eaten regularly. That includes fat found in salmon, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, etc.
Here’s what happens in your body when you eat a diet rich in highly processed carbohydrates like crackers, cookies, pastries, soda and other junk food. Let’s say you grab a pop tart (sorry Kellogg, kind of) to perk you up midway through your afternoon. Your sugar shoots up and voila!, you feel just the right combination of relief, satisfaction, and energy. You’re ready to refocus and get on with your day. Sadly, that sugar fix doesn’t last long and you come crashing down, craving more carbs, more sugar. You start sniffing it out like an addict. We wouldn’t dream of shooting up heroin, but we think nothing of a mid afternoon pop tart or frappuccino break. This stuff is addictive folks, as those who eat junk food daily can attest.
I hate to tell you that the sugar rush you briefly enjoyed just sent your insulin levels soaring, and that is a recipe for metabolic disaster. Once your insulin levels are up, you begin to store more fat and that results in further metabolic dysfunction. In other words…pop tarts contribute to carb addiction, which contributes to fat storage, which contributes to inflammation, and this creates a metabolic calamity, culminating in diabetes, heart disease and other medical afflictions.
So, should we all follow a low carb diet? Maybe. I do. But remember…all carbs aren’t bad. When you have to have some starch, opt for whole grain bread, brown rice, steel cut oats and other healthy options. Fruits are healthy carbs in my book, though hard-core low carb adherents often avoid those as well.
For long term health, for weight loss, and to reduce your risk of heart disease, my bet is on low carb over low fat diets. Thanks to the folks at Annals of Internal Medicine for publishing further scientific evidence to support the low carb advocates.
Thank you for listening and I wish you the best of health!
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