Well, I stand corrected. A diet rich in lean meats, fish, veggies and berries sounds like a very sensible diet indeed. Who among us would argue with that?
Such a diet is also likely to be low in ice cream, soda, beer, chips, fries, Bloomin' Onions, cake, candy, and Whoopee pies. Which is to say, low in
But is a low-carbohydrate diet by definition lower in calories than a carb-rich diet? Not necessarily, particularly if one consumes a daily
regimen of bacon, cheese and eggs followed by an entire chicken and topped off with "at least" a pound of well-marbled steak. But most of us would not
and do not eat like this.
For most people, strictly limiting one food group in their diet -- be it carbohydrates or fat -- also reduces the number of calories in that diet. The
reason for this is pretty obvious. While low-carbohydrate diets allow hamburgers and steak, they do not allow buns or fries or even ketchup. They allow
butter but not the bread to slather it on, cream cheese but not the bagel, heavy cream but not ice cream. They forbid all pastries, all breaded fried
foods, all sweetened dairy products. You get the picture. So for most real people living in the real world, a low-carbohydrate diet is a
low-calorie diet. And as we all know, any diet truly low in calories will help us lose weight -- which, if maintained over time, lowers our risk of heart
disease and diabetes. But the key here is "maintained over time."
Yes, of course, some people find a low-carbohydrate diet easier to tolerate than a low-fat diet, and are more likely to stick with it. Others find that a
low-carbohydrate diet makes them feel better, lowers their "bad" cholesterol levels, and improves their health overall. This is particularly true for
people who find it easier to simply cut out carbohydrates than to moderate them -- that is, people who can't resist overeating carbohydrates, especially
sweets. Cutting back on sweets and simple carbohydrates is probably a good idea for most of us, and no one is saying that pasta is the perfect food. But
Americans already consume more meat and saturated fat than do most other citizens of the planet, and it doesn't seem to be doing us much good.
As we all know -- and as I've already stated -- any diet that reduces calorie intake will result in weight loss. The tricky part is keeping that weight
off. The National Weight Loss Registry -- has for decades tracked people who have lost significant amounts of weight and
kept it off. The most potent predictor of permanent weight loss in this group? A relatively
low-fat diet rich in vegetables and whole grains. Regular exercise -- about an hour of walking a day -- also seems to contribute.
Does that mean that we should substitute carbohydrates for fat, calorie for calorie, or drastically reduce our fat intake, or consume pounds of
sugar-filled low-fat products? Absolutely not. But it does give evidence that for the majority of humans, a balanced diet low in sugar and saturated fat
and high in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains and moderate amounts of lean protein is -- when combined with regular exercise -- the best
prescription for health.