Do Low Carbohydrate Diets Lead to Weight Loss Success?
Author: Marsha J. Hudnall, MS, RD, CD
So your neighbor, office mate, best friend, whoever just lost 10 pounds in only two weeks following the latest in high protein low carbohydrate diets. And now you're thinking you should give it a go -- have even started the search for high protein low carbohydrate recipes?
True, high protein low carb diets seem to be leading many people to weight loss success. Trouble is, they seemed to do it 30 years ago, too. They were the rage in the early 70s, and look where many of us are today: growing fatter with each decade.
The bottom line: Diets -- low carb diets or not -- simply don't work for the vast majority of people. If that doesn't convince you, look at some of the reasons why high protein low carbohydrate diets seem to create weight loss success stories -- but really don't.
"I'm not hungry when I eat high protein low carb diets."
Many people say they feel more satisfied eating low carbohydrate diets. And indeed, studies show protein is the most satiating nutrient. Proteins and fat (which is usually in high protein low carbohydrate foods) cause your body to release cholecystokinin, a hormone that contributes to the feeling of fullness. Some protein in meals and even snacks may help us feel more satisfied and go longer between eating. But the key word is "some." We don't need an excess of protein, or low carb diets, to get these effects. By just eating balanced meals that contain grain/starchy foods, protein foods, vegetables and/or fruits and some fat, most people can achieve the same satiety. One other important note is that hunger control with low carbohydrate diets is often the result of ketosis (when your body burns fat for fuel.) Ketosis is very unhealthy, causing nausea, headaches, fatigue, even coma.
"Results are results - I saw successful weight loss, didn't I?"
Many people do lose weight on high protein low carb diets. Instead of fat, however, they're initially losing more water than anything else -- and it quickly returns once off low carb diets. They seem to see successful weight loss, too, because low carb diets restrict many foods, resulting in eating less than usual.
The big question is: Is it really successful weight loss if it doesn't stay off? For most people, if weight loss is achieved quickly and with a restrictive method such as a diet that does not allow for individual likes and dislikes, then the lost pounds will return, along with discouragement, defeat and even more pounds than before. What's more, high protein low carb diets may also increase risk for health problems such as osteoporosis, cancer, even heart disease. A healthy intake of whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables -- often on the "avoid" list in high protein low carb diets - appears to help reduce this risk, and is the mainstay of a sensible plan to achieve weight loss success.
Create your own weight loss success story.
Despite what you hear about high protein low carb diets, there's little evidence that weight loss success is truly (permanently) achieved. What's more, disordered eating behaviors are usually reinforced by high protein low carb diets, adding to the struggles that low carbohydrate diets and other diets are supposed to solve. Stop dieting now and start living a healthy lifestyle that truly leaves you feeling good!
About the author
©2004 Green Mountain at Fox Run, Ludlow, Vermont. Marsha J. Hudnall, MS, RD, LD is director of health communications and senior nutritionist at Green Mountain at Fox Run (http://www.fitwoman.com). For over 32 years, Green Mountain at Fox Run has developed and refined a life-changing program exclusively for women seeking permanent strategies for healthy weight loss and health (http://www.fitwoman.com/weightlossprogram.htm). To learn more about Green Mountain at Fox Run, visit our website at: http://www.fitwoman.com
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