The Pros and Cons of Today's hottest diet.
The latest craze in dieting is the low-carbohydrate diet. Carbs are being blamed for rising rates of obesity and ts health consequences - including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure. Best-selling diet books advocate low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet plans as a solution for this epidemic, and we all knwo someone who's dropped a lot of weight following this regimen.
But is this the right diet for people with diabetes,who have problems metabolizing carbs? The AMerican Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association do not recommend low-carb diets because of their limited long-term success rates and potential hazards to overall health. Before you jump on the low-carbohydrate bandwagon, read thises answers to common questions about carbohydrates, health, and diabetes.
Q. 1) What are carbohydrates and how are they used by the body?
A. 1) Carbohydrates - classified either starches or sugars - are one of the three main nutrients in food. Your body uses carbohydrates as its main energy source to power everything you do, from walking to breathing to digesting your food. You find carbohydrates in grain-based foods, fruits,vegetables, and milk products. (Fiber is also a form of carbohydrate, but it does not supply energy.) When you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into smaller units that are absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose, which your body relies on as its preferred source of fuel.
People with type 1 and 2 diabetes are instructed to focus on the total amount of carbohydrate consumed, not the source. That's because sugar doesn't raise blood sugar levels more rapidly than other carbohydrate-containing foods. The main difference between sugars and starches is the "nutrient package." Sugary foods are typically lacking in important nutrients, but starches often come packaged with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
Q. 2) Are carbohydrates fattening?
A. 2) Keep in mind that anything eaten is excess is fattening, whether it's carbohydrates, protein, or fat. High-carbohydrate foods such as bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, tortillas, and other grain foods are generally low in calories. That's because carbohydrates contain four calories per gram, while fat contains nine calories per gram. THat means you can eat more than twice the amount of carbohyrdate foods for the same number of calores as high-fat foods.
Q. 3) What foods are excluded in low-carb diets?
A. 3) Fist consider what a basic, well-balanced diet includes: a variety of foods that supply a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. In a wholesome diet,carbohydrates contgribute about 45 to 65% of total caloires, fat contributes about 20 to 35%. To put this in perspective, an 1,800-calores diet that supplies 50% of its calories from carbohyrates would contain about 225 grams of carb ohydrate.
Q. 4) What is the premise of a low-carbohydrate diet?
A. 4) Insulin is required to move glucose from the blood into your cells where it can be used for energy. Low-carb advocatges claim that eating too much carbohydrate causes the body to produce excess insulin. This over-production of insulin allegedly leads to insulin resistance and weight gain.
Q. 5) But does low-carbohydrates diets really work?
A. 5) Here's what is likely to happen over a span of several weeks if you follow a low-carbohydrate diet. Dieters looking for a quick fix are encouraged by a fairly rapid loss of 5 to 10 pounds that seem to melt away in the initial weeks of cutting out carbs.
When calorie intake is reduced, the body burns carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscle as a source of energy. As this stored carbohydrate is used, the body flushes out water. Remember, your body prefers to use glucose for fuel, adn the diet is not supply enough. Once the stored carbohydrate is burned, the body releases water. Once the carbohydrate is depleted, teh body turns to breaking down tis own muscle as a source of energy, and more water is lost. Eventually, the body will use body far for energy, but only as a last resort.