Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Low-Carb Myth Busting

There's a pesky rumor that continues to make the rounds in the media and amongst the diet "experts" - it's said that those who advocate low-carb or controlled-carb diets think calories don't count.

Well now that's just silly!

Of course calories count.

You just don't have to count them when you're following a low-carb diet.

With millions of people potentially considering a weight loss program as their New Year's Resolution for 2006, I'd like to set the record straight on the calorie myth those who want to discourage you from trying a low-carb diet continue to put forth.

Study after study shows a unique pattern amongst study participants placed on a low-carb diet - they eat less calories without counting their calories.

That's right - they eat less calories without trying to eat less or counting how many calories they eat each day. In fact, a significant number of study subjects rate satiety levels as "very high" when on a low-carb diet - that is they're not hungry and do not have the urge to eat more food like they do when on a low-fat diet.

If you've ever tried a low-fat diet that is calorie-restricted too, you know the hunger. It's inescapable and with you each day. That hunger is something that you simply will not experience if you try a low-carb diet and follow it properly!

And, let's not forget, there are metabolic reasons why satiety is high, making you feel fuller and more likely to eat less calories on a low-carb diet without counting or thinking about your calorie intake.

The first is that protein foods - which you're allowed to consume ad libidum (as much as you want) - have a high satiety value. They fill you up quickly and the bonus is that your body has a "threshold" of how much protein it will allow you to consume - you will simply be hard pressed to overeat protein. Cool, huh?

The next metabolic "bonus" is that your protein and carbohydrate (that is allowed) can be eaten with whatever fat you want. You no longer have to use low-fat or no-fat dressings on your salad, trim all fat from your meats or skip the butter when cooking your eggs in the morning. Both fat and protein - unlike carbohydrate - trigger satiety signals in your stomach that tell your brain you've eaten and you've had enough - so you stop eating because you feel full. Carbohydrate foods do not trigger these same signals in the stomach, but much later in the process of digestion, which is why it's easier to overeat when you're consuming a high carbohydrate low-fat diet.

The last thing that provides you with an advantage while on a low-carb diet is that you're eliminating junk foods and eating real whole foods instead. The highest volume food you'll consume (if you're doing a low-carb diet correctly) is non-starchy vegetables, select fruits and salads.

No matter what low-carb diet you choose, even the strictest still requires you to eat at least, at minimum, five servings of select fruits and vegetables each day. Depending on what non-starchy vegetables you do choose, you could be eating up to ten servings or more a day.

Here is one example of a day's worth of carbohydrates - fruits and vegetables - you could eat on the strictest plan (Atkins, 20g net a day deducting only fiber):

1/2 Avocado (1 fruit serving)
3 cups romaine lettuce (1.5 vegetable servings)
6 cherry tomatoes (1 fruit serving)
1/2 medium cucumber (1 vegetable serving)
1 cup cooked spinach (2 vegetable servings)
1/2 cup broccoli florets, raw (1 vegetable serving)
1-ounce macadamia nuts (1 fruit serving)
12 baby zucchini (1 fruit servings)
1-tablespoon ground flaxseeds

Looks to me like 4 fruit servings and 5.5 vegetable servings!

9.5 fruit and vegetable servings in a day!

With 18g net carbs, this leaves 2g for carbohydrate for other foods that are allowed that have some carbohydrate, like eggs, cheese or salad dressing. And let's not forget to mention the above foods provide 21g of fiber too. Something you're also led to believe is missing in a low-carb menu.

Tell me what low-fat diet requires you to eat that many fruits and vegetables each day? Tell me what calorie-restricted low-fat diet includes 21g of fiber?

Oh, and you probably thought fruits were not allowed didn't you?

Well, not all fruits are off limits, even on the most restricted low-carb plans. That too is another of the myths you hear!

On the strictest low-carb plan pumpkin, tomatoes, olives, lemons, limes, avocado, summer squash, zucchini and macadamia nuts are all allowed and are all fruits.

Using the above items as a base start for a day's menu, here is what you could eat on your low-carb diet while losing weight!


Florentine Omelet made with 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup cooked spinach, 2 slices turkey bacon and 2 tablespoons shredded swiss cheese, cooked in butter.


Chicken Caesar Salad made with 2 cups shredded romaine, 4 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 sliced medium cucumber, 1 cup grilled chicken breast diced, 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, 1 ounce macadamia nuts chopped (in place of croutons), 1/2 avocado sliced and creamy caesar dressing.


Dinner Salad made with 1 cup shredded romaine, 2 cherry tomatoes and creamy dressing.

Shrimp Scampi made with 6-ounces large cooked shrimp, sauteed in butter, garlic and herbs (oregano, basil and parsely), with 12 sliced baby zuccini and a side dish of 3/4 cup cooked spinach.


1/2 cup broccoli florets with creamy dip.


Vanilla Cream made with 2-ounces heavy cream, whipped with vanilla extract and 1 packet of artificial sweetener (optional).

Calories = 1734
Carbohydrate Total = 42g
Fiber = 22g
Net Carbs = 20g

Any questions?

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