After doing this ‘lifestyle’ for a while now, I forget that a lot of people have a completely erroneous belief system about what Atkin’s is, along with any of the other popular low-carb or moderated-carbohydrate eating plans out there making the rounds right now. I could whip out my Atkin’s book and fill your minds with all of the science behind carbs, sugars, glucose, glycogen, insulin resistance, the addicting properties of sugar, ad nauseum until your eyes roll back in your skulls and you reach for your usual evening snack of a Butterfinger and coke, but there are a lot of good books out there that explain the science. I have a working knowledge of it, but I am no biologist, nutritionist, nor chemist.
So, let’s just start with dispelling some of the most common myths right away. These are things that I hear people chatting about in weight loss forums, and I roll my eyes at the ignorance.
“Yeah, my cousin just told me she’s doing Atkin’s. I mean, she’s living on mayo and bacon, OMG. She won’t eat bread, but bacon is ok?
“Yeah, my mom did that for awhile. She never ate fruit or veggies”.
Ok ok. Enough of this crap. First of all, if the cousin is living on bacon and mayo, she might be trying to jump start ketosis. Ketosis? What’s that? A sign of kidney disease? NO. It’s not. That would be ketoacidosis, a very serious condition usually seen in uncontrolled diabetes where the body is burning too much fat. Ketones are a by-product of that fat-burn. You might notice ketone test strips for sale at the Rite Aid or see them in a diabetic friend’s bathroom. They let you know if you’re burning fat. For those of us who are healthy, a fat burn is a good thing. How do we burn fat? Well, first, it helps if you are not overeating the other fuel of your body- carbohydrate. The body prefers carbs simply because they are more easily burned, and the body does not give a flat damn how you look in jeans, it’s job is to efficiently turn your food intake into usable energy. The carbohydrate portion of what we eat is just easier to break down. It doesn’t mean it ‘s better for you. In a perfect world, all our carb sources would be vegetable and fruit, with a smattering of unrefined grains. The human body was not created with a need for , nor ability to properly assimilate the carbs known as candy bars, grocery store cakes , and those nasty little one dollar fried pies wrapped in wax paper wrappers. A little of anything will generally not hurt anyone. So, pasta may not be brimming over with minerals, fiber, vitamins, protein- well, ok, anything of real value, really- but it’s a tasty holder for sauce and meat and veggies which do. In low-carb diets, we just eliminate the useless, white filler foods which have no nutritional value and replace them with things that are good for you, such as more veggies, or meat or even cheese. All you’ve been hearing about fats like those in cheese turns out to not be so bad for you after all when eaten as part of a low-carb diet. Why is that?
Let’s back up to answer that. Remember the ketone strips, and burning fat rather than carbs, which convert into glucose/become glycogen. That’s right, either your body is running primarily on protein and fat, or it’s running primarily on some form of sugar. Most of us are in the middle. Tip the balance and we can gain or lose weight. You can also lose weight by simply consuming less, but most of us can’t seem to stay with that one long-term. Low carb makes this easier for those of us whose love of sweets and starches is more than simple oversight, more than a casual, occasional overeating phase. The bacon and mayo example above serves a great point for illustration here. As the body is being converted over from being a glucose/sugar burning machine primarily, to a fat burning one, the first two week ‘induction’ phase of most low-carb diets does consist of a lot of meat, cheese, and greens. Notice the greens. Some people swear by small fat/protein jaunts to speed up the process even faster, but I personally don’t feel it’s necessary for me.
So, which is superior nutrition? Bacon and eggs with strawberries, or cereal, pancakes, and fruit? Which has the most protein, by which your body fuels every muscle in your body? Which has more useless white flour and sugar? Would you feed a racehorse straight sugar before a race? You see, spiking your blood sugar causes a rush of insulin to counteract. Once your blood sugar returns to pre-spike levels, you might often feel a crash, and get ravenously hungry and shaky and grouchy well before lunch. Not only does your body not have enough slower burning, necessary protein and fat to keep you going, but your blood sugar is now too low. So, in a misguided attempt to correct this, we might grab donuts, chips, candy bars or the hallowed yet useless granola bars to quickly raise our blood sugar levels again,and it ‘s not even lunch time. I know that there are many normal weight people out there who have more stable reactions to sugars, who can eat cereal for breakfast and be fine until lunch, have their subs and chips and never be overweight, but I am not one of them, and neither are many of us. I am , like many of us in the world, strangely and profoundly addicted to the documented release in dopamine and seratonin from my brain which eating refined carbs and sugars causes. We are programmed from early childhood to capitalize on our natural enjoyment of sweetness by being rewarded with candies and cookies and cakes, for celebrations, good behavior, and are set up to think that these things are what we deserve for being ‘good’, when nothing could be further from the truth! Finally, good low carb diets like the one I follow is huge on veggies. In fact, the first two weeks meals consist of two salads per day, and after the first two weeks, the emphasis is always on veggies, low-glycemic fruits, and clean meats as much as possible, like salmon, other fish, meat, dairy and eggs/cheese. There is even a way to do low carb and still be vegan. Our carbs can come from moderate amounts of quinoa and couscous , too, but grains should NOT be the staple of the diet, veggies and protein should. I mean veggies that do not have a large carb/starch component, because the body converts that into sugar.
Help in Eating Right: Getting great nutrition without refined sugars and useless white flour: http://www.shakeology.com/leekirsten I am a coach, and I stand behind this amazing superfood. Also, I am a health coach and soon-to-be personal trainer. I invite you to my challenge groups held online monthly. Lee MacKenzie at Facebook. Or just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. I run free or paid groups. You are welcome to find out more about either!
Please dive into the myriad of reasons that table sugar and refined carbs need to play a much more minimal role in our diets: For further reading: