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Low Carb - A Lifestyle Change

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Ruth Buttigieg | 0 comments

Taking the decision to actively be healthy is a big one. The trigger for this decision may have come either from not being able to fit into a favourite pair of jeans or dress, or looking at a recent picture of yourself and being shocked. We are all human and living in a food environment that seems intent on making us heavier does not help the situation in cases where for one reason or another we have been a bit complacent about our food choices.

Right, so you have taken the decision to lose weight, the next thing is researching the best method that will not only help you with your goal but also to keep the weight off long-term. There are various options out there available whether it be shake diets, meal replacement diets, calorie counting, etc. Yes following these will give you a result - but how long will this last?

Studies continue to show that the hormonal chaos that our bodies are placed under when we go on a ‘diet’ and lose weight is a big contributing reason to individuals experiencing ‘yo-yo’ dieting throughout their life. Here are a few reason why keeping the weight off long term can be challenging.

 

The Importance of Hormones

 

Following a typical ‘Western’ diet i.e. consuming bread, pasta, rice and confectionary will lead to insulin spikes throughout the day. Insulin is the hormone responsible to maintaining stable blood sugar levels but also ensuring that any extra sugar in the blood is disposed of. Our bodies are extremely well formulated to store any extra energy. Hence, any excess sugar in the blood that has not been used to provide energy to the body will be stored as glycogen and subsequently as fat through the action of insulin.

 

Ensuring that we have an overall hormonal balance, from metabolic hormones, to sex and stress hormones is an important factor that contributes not only to weight loss, but also to overall health. Unfortunately, this aspect of human physiology is often left out from many weight loss programmes available on the market.

 

Is fear of fat ruining your health?

 

Ever since the low-fat message was introduced, there has been an increase in carbohydrate consumption. In fact, current health guidelines insist that 50% of our meals consist of carbohydrate based foods. The rationale behind this message is that our bodies require  carbohydrates for energy. This is a myth as our bodies can run on other fuel sources - fat and protein. Proof of this can be found in any biochemistry textbook.


By consuming beneficial fats in your diet, we mean the use of butter, extra virgin olive oil and/or coconut oil in your cooking. We also mean consuming oily fish such as salmon, trout, herring, etc and also the consumption of eggs and full fat dairy. Before panic sets in about the high amount of cholesterol consumed, science is continuously showing that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease - it is inflammation that should be used instead as a marker.

 

Change your habits and you’ll start seeing the benefits

 

Start by looking at the items in your shopping basket. The way an individual’s metabolism makes use of the calorific energy found in food varies from person to person and is dependent on a number of things such as type of food eaten as well as type of bacteria present in the gut. Processed foods are very easily digested and do not require a lot of effort whilst green vegetables, nuts and meat require a lot more energy to be properly digested and generally provide much better amounts of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, both for your body but also for your gut bacteria.

 

Hence, base your meal choices around dietary fibre options such as lovely green vegetables and berries for those mighty antioxidants. Choose full fat dairy options as these contain fat-soluble vitamins that our body needs for optimal function.

 

Stay away from items that say low in sugar and low in fat, these will have artificial additives added to them and have little to no nutrient content. Base your food choices on quality rather than quantity



References:

 

1. Brehm BJ, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2003, 88:1617–1623

 

2. Foster GD, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. NEJM, 2003, 348:2082-2090.

 

3. Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC: Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA 2007, 297(9):969-977.

 

4. Halton T.L, Willett W.C, Liu S., Manson J.E, Albert C.M, Rexrode K, Hu F.B.  Low-Carbohydrate-Diet Score and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. NEJM, 2006, 355:1991-2002  

 

5. Hession M, Rolland C, Kulkarni U, Wise A & Broom J. Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat/low-calorie diets in the management of obesity and its comorbidities. Obesity Reviews, 2008, 10 (1): 36-50.

 

6. Samaha FF, et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. NEJM, 2003, 348:2074-2081    

 

7. Sumithran P & Proietto J (2013) The defence of body weight: a physiological basis for weight regain after weight loss. Clinical Science, 124, pp231-241

 

8. Yancy WS, Jr., Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC: A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 2004, 140(10):769-777.

 

 

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