This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Reducing carb intake

The Atkins Diet seems a little radical to me, and while there have been a lot of anecdotal evidence that it helps with weight reduction in the short term, I'm not convinced following such a food plan doesn't have adverse long term adverse health implications. For instance, Dr. Atkins himself went into cardiac arrest in April 2002, although he claims it was due to cardiomyopathy brought on by an infection that spread to his heart, and not caused by his diet. However, I do agree that most Americans probably eat too many carbs, and too many "bad carbs" at that, and should cut back somewhat. A more balanced perspective is in the fabulous book called Turn Up the Heat: Unlock the Fat-Burning Power of Your Metabolism which you can purchase from Amazon and also read the detailed review I posted there. I'd also like to emphasize that these are all my personal opinions: I'm not a dietician so you should consult with one before significantly changing your diet.

Related to this issue ia an interesting Wall Street Journal article that talks about reducing the types of carbs you eat. Here are some selected quotes:

... there's a growing body of research that shows eating certain types of carbohydrates -- like those found in potatoes and highly processed foods such as white bread -- can make you hungrier. That's because the body processes them more quickly -- causing a spike in blood glucose, which in turn gives you a quick surge of energy. But then you crash and you're quickly hungry again. And hunger is the primary reason diets fail.
"Those swings can make it harder to control caloric intake -- they stimulate hunger," says Harvard School of Public Health professor Walter C. Willett, a longtime critic of the conventional carb-focused food pyramid. "If you're hungry, you'll snack and may consume more calories in the long run."
This doesn't mean you should cut all carbohydrates. But if you're trying to lose weight, it makes sense to rethink the ones you do eat and how often you eat them.
Many high-carb foods, such as french fries, muffins and oil-laden pasta, are also very high-calorie foods, so cutting them out always makes sense. In addition, switching to the type of carbs found in brown rice, beans, vegetables and fruits may help curb your hunger; they are essentially "sustained-release" carbs that are harder for the body to break down. Choose whole-grain foods over highly processed ones. And restrict "white" foods such as sugar, white bread, white potatoes and foods made with finely milled flours.

The article also suggest some ways to improve the quality of the carbohydrates you eat:

  • Bread: Choose grainy varieties and sourdough.
  • Potatoes: Eat smaller portions, switch to sweet potatoes.
  • Cereals: Try brans or oatmeal.
  • Rice: Switch to basmati, brown rice or couscous.
  • Sugar: Use apple juice, honey, applesauce or dried fruit to sweeten dishes.

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