Newsletter 31, April 2012
The Calorie Advantage with Low Carb Diets
Many experts believe that low carb diets are the best diets for avoiding the starvation mode trap. By this I mean the situation where your body thinks your weight loss is unintentional and slows down your metabolism to prevent further weight loss, thus protecting you from the 'famine'. Low carb diets are believed to have an advantage in this respect because, besides minimising insulin levels (high insulin levels encourage fat storage and prevent its release), they allow weight loss at a higher calorie intake than low calorie/low fat diets. This is sometimes referred to as the 'calorie advantage' or 'metabolic advantage'.
That a calorie advantage can exist is not universally accepted, because the concept of being able to lose weight on a higher level of calories when these come from protein rather than carbohydrate foods does not fit with the idea that 'all calories are equal'. Detractors of the calorie advantage say that it defies the Laws of Thermodynamics because energy cannot 'just disappear'. (The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only change from one form to another).
However, low carb diets are usually high in protein. Protein takes more energy to metabolise than either carbohydrates or fat, because longer and more complex biochemical reactions are required in order to break the protein down into energy that the body can use. As a result, when protein is digested, more heat is produced. This explains the 'missing' calories and so satisfies the First Law of Thermodynamics. This 'wasting' of calories is also predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that in any reaction that is irreversible there is a loss or dissipation of energy in that reaction.
So it seems that your body 'wastes' more of your calories when you go low carb. Allowing you to eat more calories than if you were doing the traditional low calorie/low fat diet is an advantage in itself, but enabling you to lose weight without reducing your calories too drastically helps keep your body from going into starvation mode, which is another very significant benefit. Moreover, low carb/high protein diets also eliminate the constant hunger commonly experienced on low calorie/low fat diets, which is yet another signal to the body to go into starvation mode.
Put like that, there doesn't seem to be a lot going for low calorie/low fat diets, does there? Read more about the tricks to successful weight loss in 'Why Can't I Lose Weight - the Real Reasons Diets Fail and What to Do About It'.
New Recipes in the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook
For those of our readers who are subscribers to the Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook, two new recipes have just been released: Family Blackberry Crumble (4-24) and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (6-30). You will find these recipes already in your Cookbook next time you log in.
Your Successes, Requests and Questions
This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.
Here is a question we answered recently:
Q: I've been following a low carb/high protein eating plan and have lost almost 50 lbs in about 4-4 1/2 months and feeling great, but I am chewing a stick or two of sugar-containing gum, but it doesn't seem to be hurting my loss. What have you to say about this?? I also do drink my caffeine diet pop daily, and, again, nothing BAD has happened, it doesn't seem. Isn't the theory that drinking diet pop will make you want sweet things more? If you don't, or don't eat the sweet things, isn't it okay to continue this way? Just wondering what YOUR take would be on these two points!
A: Congratulations on your 50lbs lost! I wouldn't worry about the small amount of sugar in chewing gum if you're still losing weight and you're taking in plenty of protein, vegetables and salads. (Assuming that you are not having more than one or two pieces of gum a day).
If your diet pop is not making you crave sweet things, then you are proving the 'theory' wrong (or at least, that it is not true for all people!) However, you do need to be wary of what sweeteners are used in the pop. Most experts now say that all artificial sweeteners are harmful, but in my opinion the one that is most important to avoid is aspartame (Nutrasweet). This is because it is an endocrine disrupter. If it disrupts the balance of your hormones its effects may not be immediately obvious, but take many years to have an effect.
Additionally, anything that is acidic and carbonated (as most pops are) is also very hard on tooth enamel and may also contribute to osteoporosis, or thinning of the bones. The caffeine in the pop will also be driving your adrenal glands hard (as will caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, painkillers etc). Taken with the stress on your adrenal glands that ongoing weight loss causes, I would certainly suggest you limit your intake of pop to one glass per day if you feel you have to have it. Having said that, if the pop is important in helping you to stay on low carb, then having it is better than cutting it out completely and risking falling off the diet.
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With best wishes for your continued good health
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com
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