Recommendations For Weight Gain And Calorie Energy Intake During Pregnancy High Carb & Low Carb Diets: How To Avoid The Dangers

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High Carb & Low Carb Diets: How To Avoid The Dangers

There is a two hundred year history of people prescribing both high and low carbohydrate diets for weight loss. So how does one choose? One factor you need to consider is the dangers associated with any diet.

What is a carbohydrate, anyway?

There are three types of nutrients that every body uses:

* Proteins in our diet usually come from meat and soy products like tofu. Amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are used to make muscles and enzymes (the proteins that do most of the work our bodies need to survive)

* Carbohydrates are sometimes described as “sugars”, but they’re not just white stuff you find in the baking aisle. Simple sugars include the sugar you put in coffee; pasta, bread and potatoes are among the sources of starch, or complex carbohydrates. Most of your body uses carbohydrates for energy, and it is the preferred energy source for the brain.

* Fats are long, chain-like molecules that do not mix with water (oils are fats). They are an efficient way for the body to store energy.

You can see that all three nutrients are crucial for functioning. What happens if you take in more or less of a given nutrient than you need?

The low-fat diet

The low-fat diet reduces fat intake, following the government pyramid that suggests fats should be used sparingly. There are many good reasons to limit the amount of fat in your diet:

* cholesterol and fats can result in clogged arteries, leading to heart disease and possible heart damage (in the form of a heart attack), stroke and kidney disease

*fat packs a lot of calories – if you don’t use these calories in your daily activities, they will be stored in your fat cells and cause weight gain

Low-fat diets are often higher in carbohydrates than the average American diet. Low-fat products benefit from the fat-carbohydrate trade-off; if you compare “low fat” cookies to their “regular” counterparts, you may notice that the fat per serving is lower, but there is more carbohydrate per serving than the “regular” alternative. Because fat is full of flavor, simple sugar and lots of salt can be added to low-fat products to improve flavor.

Carbohydrates are not a very good signal of satiety. In contrast, when you eat a little fat, your body “recognizes” it as a signal to limit the amount of intake. So, while a low-fat diet can help you stay healthy, a no-fat diet can encourage you to eat more than you need. If you make up in carbohydrate calories what you lose in fat grams, excess carbohydrates are stored as starch in the liver and fat in your fat cells! So even if your diet is low-fat, you can end up gaining weight if you eat more carbohydrates than you use in daily activities.

Finally, you need the right types of carbohydrates to stay healthy and aid weight loss. Simple sugars are absorbed quickly and use little energy to process – in other words, they add a lot of calories to your meal. In contrast, foods with more complex carbohydrates, such as starch in whole grain breads – take longer for your body to absorb and use more energy. They also give your body time to recognize that you are full. Complex carbohydrates are more likely to have vitamins (like potato skins which are high in B12) and fiber (like whole grain bread), both of which are important for good health.

Low-Carb diet

Low-carb diets can help you lose weight by:

* make sure you are full because both fats are better signals to your body that “food is here!” then carbohydrates

* promote ketosis: in ketosis / Ketones are a byproduct of burning fats and proteins instead of carbohydrates.

* leveling of your hormonal response to carbohydrates. We make the hormone insulin in response to food, especially sugar, in the body. It is hypothesized that large changes in insulin levels (for example, a large increase in response to a carbohydrate-heavy meal) trigger the storage of sugars as fat.

However, if decreasing carbohydrates increases your fat intake, serious problems can result. In some studies, about 30% of people on low-carbohydrate diets showed an increase in cholesterol levels, even if they lost weight on the diet. Studies have also shown that low-carb diets can increase kidney problems, especially in people who already had some kidney disease.

In addition, some studies suggest that ketosis in the Atkin’s diet is not only caused by fat burning, but by burning muscle instead. Losing muscle does result in weight loss, but it’s unlikely to give you the look you want, or help you function. Finally, ketosis can be fatal in diabetics – if you have diabetes, you should talk to your doctor before starting a diet.

Women have some special issues to think about when looking at a low-carb diet. Some studies show that people on these diets lose a lot of calcium, which makes them a bad idea for women who are at risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis. In addition, some low-carb diets do not contain the right foods for a balanced intake of vitamins; while a few days of missing vitamins is not a problem, chronic deficiencies can lead to damage to skin, eyes and bones. And for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, ketones can be dangerous for a fetus and for you.

What diet should I use?

The keys to weight loss are moderation and moderation. If you are interested in losing weight, talk to your health care provider about customizing a weight loss plan that takes into account your current health and weight loss goals. Reducing calories and balancing nutrients, rather than focusing on a single “culprit” gives you the best chance of long-term weight reduction.

Auchincloss, E, “Byron’s Weight,” Times Literary Supplement, 4896, p 15, 1997

Bravata DM, et al. “Efficacy and safety of low-carbohydrate diets: a systematic review,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 289, Issue 14. p 1837-1850. 2003.

Meckling, K, “Comparison of a low-fat diet with a low-carbohydrate diet on weight loss, body composition, and risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease in free-living, overweight men and women,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Volume 89, Number 6 , pages 2717-23

Westman, EC, et al “Effect of 6-month adherence to a very low carbohydrate diet program,” American Journal of Medicine, Volume113, p. 30-36, 2002

Olsen, M., et al, “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Voume 140 pages769-777, 2004

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