4 Reasons For NOT Going On A Low-Carb Diet And Why They Are Completely Invalid
Posted Dec 29 2009 5:52pm
Are the questions and concerns about low-carb diets legitimate?
Engaging people on the subject of low-carb diets is the heartbeat of everything that I am doing these days and will continue to do for many years to come. Whether it is on my blog, iTunes podcast, YouTube videos, and elsewhere online or in speaking with people face-to-face, my passion remains strong for sharing with everyone I know about the incredible health benefits of livin’ la vida low-carb. Nobody will ever convince me that eating a high-whole grain, low-fat diet is ever gonna be good for my body again.
One of the places where enjoy hearing from people who don’t necessarily buy into the low-carb message is on the discussion boards at Amazon.com. I’ve blogged about how the thread I created a few years back about low-carb diets has heated up from time to time, including when vegan diet proponent T. Colin Campbell showed up to express his disdain for the low-carb lifestyle. When I created that thread in 2006, I had no idea there would be such a lively interaction with people but I’m glad there has been. It provides opportunities for learning about what low-carb is REALLY about without all the innuendo and misinformation that tends to dominate media headlines and out of the mouths of the so-called health “experts.”
One person commented on his thoughts about low-carb diets and shared four areas of concern that he just couldn’t wrap his head around. Here’s what he wrote:
I’m about 60 pounds overweight, and this year, I’ve really been spending a lot of time researching different diets. I purchased a copy of The Carbohydrate’s Diet. I thought I had found my answer to long-term weight loss, but I was wrong. I only lasted 3 days. I don’t think I will be trying a low-carb diet again anytime too. Here are some of the reasons why I decided to give up on the low-carb lifestyle.
1. It was much too restrictive. There was a lot of emphasis put on what not to eat, but very little on what you can eat. I found it difficult to plan meals. For breakfast, I mainly ate eggs. Which was fine, because I like eggs. But where I really struggled was with lunch. I honestly couldn’t think of a single thing that I could eat. I also am not a big fan of vegetables. I am all about quick and easy meals. I found this to be virtually impossible on a low-carb diet.
I’m not a person who likes to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I know there are South Beach diet frozen dinners, but I looked at several local grocery stores and they aren’t available. I think if someone is able to stick with a diet like this and lose weight, GREAT. But for me, it was too restrictive. I know low-carb is great and it does work if you are willing to be totally committed. But I know now that a low-carb eating style just isn’t for me. I think it’s virtually impossible to eat low-carb when going out to eat. I don’t go out to eat that often, but if I was on a low-carb diet, I would have no idea what to order!
2. It made me feel very physically unwell. I had frequent headaches, dizziness, and light-headedness. I got tired much more easily than I normally do. I also constantly felt hungry. Another thing that concerned me is that I was losing weight very rapidly. Over the 3 days, I lost 4 pounds the first day, and 6 pounds the next two days. That was just too much too fast.
But my biggest complaint was that eating low-carb gave me really bad diarrhea. It would hit with no warning. There were a couple of times when I didn’t think I would make it to the bathroom in time. It would hit shortly after eating the low-carb meal and then several more times through out the day. The diarrhea continued for almost a month after going off the low-carb. I was starting to get concerned that this diet has really messed up my digestive tract. Fortunately, my digestive tract eventually regulated itself and went back to normal.
3. I just don’t think it’s possible or healthy to maintain a low-carb lifestyle. I’m not totally sold on the safety of this type of diet. I think they are sustainable for a few weeks, or possibly even a few months, but not for life. I’ve come across a lot of research online from dieticians who say that this type of diet is not healthy to stick with for life. Personally, I think that most low-carb diets are nothing but fad diets. As far as meat goes, I’m generally not a big fan of red meat (pork chops, beef roast, steak etc) I love chicken and fish.
4. I had a difficult time figuring out how many carbs were in particular foods and just how many calories I needed to eat a day. I frequently got frustrated trying to figure out if a certain food could be considered low-carb or not.
If I knew someone who was considering going on a low-carb diet, I would definitely try to convince them not to. To me, the complication, frustration, and problems that come with going low-carb far outweigh any potential benefits. But that’s just my opinion, based on my experience.
This person obviously didn’t have a very good experience in his mind about livin’ la vida low-carb and I was thrilled to have the opportunity respond to some of his concerns. Here’s what I shared back with him:
THANK YOU for your comments. But three days is certainly not long enough to experience the benefits of livin’ la vida low-carb and you need to give it at least 60 days to see if it will work for you. If the plan you chose was the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet by the Hellers, then I know why you failed on it. I’m not a big fan of that plan.
But I’m happy to address your specific concerns with low-carb living:
1. It was much too restrictive.
I know this is a popular complaint of low-carb diets in general, but I’ve never experienced that. What livin’ la vida low-carb does is it cuts out the junk and basically causes you to make BETTER choices for your health. There are a ton of excellent low-carb recipe books out there from authors like Dana Carpender, Judy Barnes Baker, and Jan McCracken, for example. And don’t miss the FREE recipes from Linda Genaw at her site.
How you choose to eat low-carb is your business, but there’s an outstanding web page detailing all the specifics of low-carbohydrate eating that was created by a registered nurse named Jackie Eberstein who actually worked with the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins for thirty years in his complementary medicine practice in New York City. She does an excellent job of outlining what this way of eating is all about.
As you can see, the food choices are delicious, easy-to-make, and convenient. I’ve never had an issue coming up with superb low-carb meals whether I was in a hurry or not. And eating out is a cinch. Order your basic meal with a protein/fat like a steak or chicken meal and then request substitutions for the potatoes, bread, and other starchy carbohydrates your body doesn’t need. Most places will give you a side salad, mixed veggies like green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower, and even tomato slices with mozzarella cheese as substitutes with NO problem whatsoever. I’ve done it plenty of times. It’s just no excuse for not doing low-carb.
2. Low-carb made me feel very physically unwell.
In the first few days, it is true that you will have some unpleasant experiences physically in response to your body detoxing off of sugar, caffeine, and all those blood sugar-spiking carbohydrates you’ve been eating. If ever there was proof that these things are as addictive as crack cocaine and heroin, then these bodily responses show it to be 100% true. I literally wanted to kill myself the first day I was on Atkins because it hurt so much and I’ve said so in interviews about my Atkins experience.
That said, once you get past those first few days of withdrawal symptoms from the carbs, something miraculous happens. You start thinking clearer, your body begins to feel energized, and you realize that something remarkable is happening within in you that you never thought could possibly happen. But it has. You are in the beginning stages of changing your life forever for the better and that’s exactly what happened for me (something that hasn’t stopped in nearly six years and counting!).
As for the quick weight loss, it is not alarming to lose weight that quickly at first because it doesn’t keep up that pace. I lost 16 pounds in my first two weeks (starting out at 410 pounds), 30 pounds in the first month, 40 more pounds in the second month, a total of 100 pounds in 100 days, and then it leveled off to about 1-3 pounds a week for the rest of 2004 to get down 180 pounds. It quite literally was the best nutritional plan I have ever been on in my life because I never felt deprived of foods I could enjoy and I NEVER got hungry. If my stomach growled (which it hardly ever did then or even now because of the satiating properties of fat and protein), then I ate something. Those on a low-fat, low-calorie plan must simply suffer with hunger pangs until they are allowed their next meal. What kind of living is that?
Will you have “bad diarrhea” and other such issues when you are losing weight on low-carb? Absolutely. But your body is going to do everything it can to remove and eliminate the waste it doesn’t need any longer — namely your stored body fat. I don’t want to get gross, but what was coming out the other end of those trips to the bathroom had no business being in my body to begin with. Good riddance forever and now I’m healthier as a result. I don’t know what you were eating to produce those sudden bathroom visits, but it could have been sugar-free chocolates with sugar alcohols like maltitol causing your gastrointestinal issues. Low-carb didn’t and won’t “mess up (your) digestive tract.”
3. I just don’t think it’s possible or healthy to maintain a low-carb lifestyle.
Hmmm, well I have been on it for nearly six years and I’ve spoken with thousands of people who eat this way every single day with no problems whatsoever maintaining this deliciously healthy way of eating. There’s absolutely no danger eating in a way that our early Paleolithic ancestors ate which was a diet extremely high in fat, moderate in protein, and very little carbohydrates. It was their LIFESTYLE from the time they were born until the day they died and they not only survived but THRIVED on such a nutritional plan. Dietitians and so-called health “experts” will damn the low-carb lifestyle as unhealthy and a fad, but the fact remains that it has proven itself time and time again not just anecdotally, but also in the scientific studies that it is arguably the most nutritious way to eat on the planet. Here are just a few examples of this research:
By the way, if you want to eat chicken and fish rather than beef on your low-carb plan, then go for it. Just make sure you are getting ample fat in your diet to offset the high protein intake. Unlike what people have heard about livin’ la vida low-carb, it is NOT high-protein, but rather high-fat. My diet regularly consists of a fat/protein/carbohydrate ratio of 75/20/5 which more accurately defines what a LCHF diet is all about. When you remove the carbohydrates from your diet, fat becomes your fuel and should not be feared as has been popularly promoted by the “experts.”
4. I also had a difficult time figuring out how many carbs were in particular foods and just how many calories I needed to eat a day.
This was one of the most liberating aspects of beginning on a healthy low-carb regimen because all the traditional rules of dieting that we’ve grown up believing were thrown out the window. You just don’t have to count calories when you first begin a low-carb plan and you simply need to make sure you are eating plenty of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and as few carbs (especially avoiding sugary and starchy ones) as possible. Green leafy and non-starchy veggies are the primary sources for your carbohydrate intake. Figuring out carbs is pretty simple with sites like CalorieKing.com or applications for your iPhone like CarbTracker.
In the end, there really is no good excuse for not at least trying low-carb for a period of at least 60 days, following it exactly as described in a book by a reputable low-carb author like Dr. Robert C. Atkins, Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades, Dr. Jonny Bowden, and others, and seeing how it works for you. Trying to wing it on your own and thinking you’ve given livin’ la vida low-carb a fair shake is just not the way to go.
I’m happy to help anyone who feels low-carb won’t work for them by evaluating their menus, offering up my layman’s perspective on what you are doing, and helping you understand what you can do to bring about the weight loss and health improvements you so desperately desire. I’m sorry you feel low-carb living didn’t work for you, but I’m pleased to assist you and anyone else anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org if you decide to give it another try in the future. THANK YOU for your comments!
I never did hear back from this commenter again, but I was able to respond to each of his concerns about livin’ la vida low-carb specifically and thoroughly so that others who might have been reading got the facts from both sides to make an informed decision for themselves. That’s why I keep sharing the message daily in as many places as I can because this is just too important not to. If you have a reason for NOT going on a low-carb diet that you think is legitimate, then I’d love to see it. E-mail me or leave a comment below to share with all of us why the healthy low-carb lifestyle is not worth doing for the rest of your life.