I am trying really hard to understand how diets work or don’t, and what is happening chemically to the body under various circumstances. I’ll detail the “facts” I think I know, and ask to be corrected where wrong, and add some questions perhaps. The more I read, the more contradictory information I see and the more confusing it gets. I’d like to “try” to separate fact from fiction.
Conventional wisdom for the overweight is, the human body burns x number of calories per day. If the human body takes in less calories than it burns, it is bound to lose weight. This is obvious and logical.
Additionally, fat does a lot of bad things to the human body, therefore reduce your fat intake. Ditto for cholesterol.
Somewhat conventional wisdom is that the above does not go deep enough in it’s analysis. Of course the body won’t add “weight” if you consume fewer calories than you burn. But as anyone who has dieted knows, you feel hungry on a low calorie diet. Therefore, sooner or later, you will go back to a normal lifestyle. But you will be in for a surprise when you do. Because a low calorie diet causes you to lose both fat and muscle. But unless you are producing a fair amount of growth hormone, which you probably are not, you will gain back almost pure fat. So you may weigh the same as you did before and look worse, or gain even more weight back for some reason…
The only way to somewhat alleviate this side effect is to exercise. If you do aerobic exercise (running, biking, swimming stuff that makes you really sweat), then you will burn more fat than muscle. You may even somewhat build muscle, but not too much.
If your exercise is anaerobic, ie, in the form of weight lifting, it’s even better. Why? Because every pound of extra muscle you have in your body burns fat hour after hour even at rest.
If that is how you lost your weight, WHEN you stop exercising and gain it back, your body may look better than it did before you started exercising. So at least it didn’t harm you…Although you will gain back almost pure fat, and you will lose some muscle due to lack of exercise, you may also keep ome of that extra muscle and wind up with more muscle than you had before you started exercising…
In summary, conventional wisdom certainly does not make you lose weight over the long term, and although exercise is worthwhile over the long haul, you are probably better off not dieting than dieting, although you may lose weight in the short term.
If you go to the booksore, you will see tons of diet books. Virtually all of them share the diets of conventional wisdom in that they only work for the short term. Some of them are low calorie in principle and the same rules apply to them as the paragraphs above. Others result in water loss which does not help in the long term. They espouse all kinds of fancy ideas, but at the end of the day, it is low-calorie based or water loss. And the worst are those that offer quick weight loss, because besides being water loss, they are short term and may even be very dangerous…
What is sad about these books is that the authors are well aware of what they are doing, but they are doing it for the money. They don’t believe it for a minute and probably know enough about nutrition to put in some fancy words to fool a lot of people.
So when I heard over the years of the Atkins diet, I thought it was another one of these gimmicks. And I ignored it. Until a few days ago when someone recommended a book called Protein Power. This was writen by a couple, they are Dr.s and one is a Chemist too. They specialize in nutrition and have been in the business apparently for a long time. They don’t seem to be fly by nighters.
Although I haven’t read Atkins, it seems to be in the same vein. There are a few things that scare me. The name of the book sounds like a salesman came up with the name rather than a scientist. Their website is even worse. I think its http://www.proteinpower.com feels like an infomercial…
And the worst is, because of their background, if they wanted to fool people, it would be easy to do so. I’m not a chemist, so who am I to argue? And if they fool you long enough to read the book, lose some water weight and tell your friends to buy the book, they can get very rich…
On the other hand, a lot of their information is very detailed and seems to make a lot of sense. The conventional science has done a very poor job in their recommendations and when I read some of their books criticising the low carb high protein diets, it lacked detail and had couched wording. So I thought I’d ask you folks.
The basic premise of protein power is that you have 2 hormones controlling the sugar in the blood. Glucagon and Insulin. Glucagon burns stored fat and puts more sugar (glucose) into the blood. Insulin takes glucose out of the blood and causes fat to be stored.
They say that high carbohydrate diets are bad because carbohydrates promote insulin release and therefore fat storage. They say that we eat so much carbs that our insulin receptors are so desensitized that they require a LOT of insulin to even feel it anymore. They advocate taking in only up to 30 grams of carbs per day for awhile so that your insulin production goes down and your insulin receptors become sensitized again and then gradually building back carbs into your diet but in severely reduced amounts.
Critics of this diet say that you only lose water and that weight loss is caused by ketosis, which creates ketones, which is bad for you. This what the Mount Sinai Nutrition guide said.
But protein power claims that there’s nothing wrong with ketones. Ketones are not bad for you, they are merely incompletely burned fats. If you don’t put carbs into your system, they will go out in your urine, breath or stool.
What’s weird is that at the end of the book they refer you to other good books, including The Zone, which contains a section about how bad ketosis is.
Some other things I’ve seen about ketosis is a friend said that ketosis is what those instarvation with big belly’s went through.
Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw said that ketones are free radicals (in their book “Life Extension”) and that free radicals are bad for you. But I think overall those two probably are not too much against the low carb diet…
Here’s a link debunking the critics of ketosis http://www.lowcarb.org/ketosis.html
but I don’t know if this is right or not, and you would expect that lowcarb.org would have a bias, but that doesn’t make them wrong…
So, to you experts, is ketosis bad for you? Can you stay in ketosis indefinitely with no ill health effects? Are carbohydrates required in your body? Do low carb diets only cause water loss or is their truth in their insulin theories and you lose fat fast too?
The critics say when you go back to a regular diet you will gain back the weight. But to me that isn’t a good enough criticism since their low cal diets offer the same problem. Plus, the low carb folks say clearly that you need to change the way you eat. It’s less of a diet but more of a lifestyle of cutting back carbs. Although I don’t relish the idea of cutting out most of my usual carb intake for the rest of my life, if steak, fish, chicken and turkey are a part of my staple diet, I can deal with cutting out fries cakes bread etc except for special occasions. But I KNOW that I can’t keep up a lifestyle of working out or of low cal diets. So if this low carb diet is not dangerous, I’m ready to change my way of life in exchange for a healthier slimmer me. But I just dont trust anyone right now and would like some guidance backed up by fact.
THANK YOU ALL!!