What am I supposed to eat? At every newsstand I see advertisements promoting high protein-low carbs diets or high carb-low protein diets. It’s so confusing, all these mixed messages, and I’m a nutritionist.
Deciphering all the diet hype makes my head spin, what about yours? Lets examine the slow carb or low carb –high protein diet bandwagon. Hopefully, what you’ll learn here will help you decide to watch this chariot race, from the sidelines, while choosing to follow a balanced diet for health, longevity and lifestyle happiness.
Why you lose weight on slow carb, high protein –low carbohydrate diets? Once you understand the reason for the weight loss you’ll understand why it isn’t recommended to follow these diets and you’ll be in a better position to say no to the next temptation for quick weight loss.
Slow carb, low carb–high protein diets are promoted to help you drop pounds fast. These diets give you impression you’re dropping fat pounds or kilos because when on them you physically feel your pants getting looser and you see the numbers on the weigh scale decreasing.
Is that weight loss fat or water? These diets, give you the impression that you’re loosing fat quickly because your body is losing water weight. As you lose water your body cells become dehydrated, thus shrinking and you’re clothes start to feel bigger etc.
What a bummer – That its not fat that you’re losing, but rather water weight. This is why when you stop the diet you gain the weight back; you’re replenishing lost water.
A look at the water loss mechanics- First, most diets eliminate all sweets and refined carbohydrates from your diet – these are loaded with fat, sugar and added calories. This one behavior change, if sustained, will result in real weight loss.
Next, you are encouraged to eat high protein- low carb meals. For breakfast, you have eggs and bacon, but pass on the toast. For lunch, you might have a chicken salad and pass on the whole wheat bread, wholegrain pasta or brown rice. For dinner, you have an 8 oz steak with lots of greens no potato or complex carbs.
A diet such as this results in a low total carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates (or carbs as I endearingly call them) provide glycogen to fuel your brain and vital nutrients for your bodies cells. When carbs are eliminated from your diet your body must use stored glycogen from the muscle and liver to provide fuel for the brain. When glycogen is burned it releases water. This water must be excreted.
Finally, excess protein, from your high protein diet, must pass through the kidneys to be excreted. To get rid of the waste products your kidneys need to draw additional water from your body tissues to flush the protein waste products. Again, drawing water out of your body that will be excreted in the urine.
There you have it folks, weight loss results from your body having to eat itself to provide your brain with necessary glycogen and your kidneys working in overdrive to ride the protein waste products. When you cease the diet and resume normal eating habits, hopefully without as much junk food, water weight is regained and the scale go back up.
Need another reason to avoid high protein diets, especially those high in animal products, they are high in saturated fats which has been linked to elevated LDL cholesterol – bad cholesterol a risk factor for heart disease. Diets high in animal products are associated with colon cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and of course kidney disease.
Today you may be perfectly healthy, but over time the extra load on kidney required to rid the body of the waste products of high protein diets taxes the kidney leaving some people in very poor health. You have two kidney’s, I recommend protecting both as without your kidney’s or a transplant your time here ceases as my friend’s Sister and my mother’s Aunt could tell you if they were still here.
What does a balanced diet look like? Depending on your age, size, activity levels etc., it is generally agreed calories should be provided in the following range of percentages:
- 45-60% from carbohydrates
- 20-35% calories from fat
- 15-20% calories from protein.
We’ll talk more about these in another post.
What I want to hit home is that the weight problems you, I and our greater society faces are not the result of eating too many whole grain complex carbohydrates, as these diets would like you to believe. No, my friends, our problems, result form eating the wrong foods, in large quantities.
I have news for you -this is our choice. I wish I could say it wasn’t. It would be nice to blame it on aliens or on somebody else, but the fact is I have never “accidentally” eaten anything. Everything I put in my mouth is by my choice.
Decide today to choose to eat healthy, to eat well and to eat for life. Choose to say Hell No to quick weight loss gimmicks, diets and promotions.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue this discussion. I look forward to engaging with you, to answering your questions and to growing our community of people who choose to eat healthy not as a diet, but as a lifestyle and a sustainable one at that.
Stay tuned and join in the discussion by leaving a comment.
For more insight into my philosophy on eating well and living a healthy lifestyle I invite you to join our mailing list in return you’ll recieve our free e-book manifesto.
Photo credit: dreams time_77875