Test Your Weight Loss Wisdom
How much do you know about calories and carbs?
4. True or false: Weight loss is faster and more effective on a low-carbohydrate diet.
False. Any diet that drastically cuts calories will result in fast
weight loss, but research shows that fast weight loss tends to be followed by
fast regain. Weight loss results from eating fewer calories and expending more
energy with physical activity. The real test of any diet is whether it helps
you keep the weight off permanently.
Following a low-carbohydrate diet generally puts you into a state called
"ketosis," which means your body has no carbohydrates to burn for
energy, so it burns stored fat or whatever else is available. Ketosis tends to
reduce hunger, so often you end up eating a very low-calorie diet. Of course,
it's calories that count when you are trying to lose weight. And every fad
diet, one way or another, manages to cut calories.
There are some undesirable side effects of a low-carbohydrate lifestyle,
including constipation, bad breath, headaches, and potential vitamin and
mineral deficiencies. In the long run, a diet high in fat -- especially
saturated fat -- may also increase your risk of heart disease and some cancers.
The National Academy of Sciences suggests that everyone should eat a minimum of
130 grams of carbohydrates each day. Do the math. That comes to 520
carbohydrate calories a day.
5. True or false: Low-carbohydrate foods have fewer calories than other foods.
False. The only way to find out whether a low-carbohydrate product
also has fewer calories is to read the label. Many manufacturers are cutting
carbohydrates from their products while loading them up with fat -- and without
reducing the calories. A calorie is a calorie, whether it's from carbohydrate,
protein, or fat.
Beware of terms such as "net carbohydrates," "impact
carbohydrates" and "effective carbohydrates." These terms are not
defined by the Food and Drug Administration, and are used by food manufacturers
to cash in on the current carb phobia. Whatever the manufacturers call it, this
is supposedly the amount of carbohydrate that's left after you subtract those
carbohydrates said to have a negligible effect -- such as fiber, sugar
alcohols, and glycerin. Until the government defines these terms and research
supports the assumptions behind them, my opinion is that these are useless
words that do little more than confuse consumers. Read labels, and choose foods
that are low in sugars but rich in fibers for the healthiest carbohydrates.
Now that you're an expert on carbohydrates and calories, you can better make
sense of food labels. Calories, along with fat grams, protein grams, and
carbohydrate grams, are listed in the nutrition facts panels of most commercial
When in doubt, I go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's online nutrient
database (called the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference).
This extensive database allows you to choose the portion size, and provides not
only calories but a whole host of nutrients contained in the food.
Most Weight Loss Clinic eating plans will provide at least half of the total
calories from carbohydrates. Choose your carbs wisely. Healthy carbohydrates
that contain plenty of fiber (2-3 grams per serving) not only aid in digestive
health and keep things moving along, but they also fill you up and help keep
snack attacks at bay.