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To Carb, or Not to Carb?

<P>Eat Yourself Thin</P>
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WebMD Feature

Dietitians just plain don't like low-carb or high-protein diets.

Whether it's The Atkins Diet, The Stillman Diet, The Scarsdale Diet or Eat Yourself Thin Like I Did by Nancy Moshier -- a popular, new book that recommends a low-carb regimen -- medical experts say these diets are not part of long-term weight maintenance.

"All of these diets, they are warmed-over versions of The Atkins Diet," says Heather Holden, RD, LDN, clinical dietitian at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "Low-carb, high-protein, it doesn't matter what you call them, they don't work in the long run."

But some aspects of Eat Yourself Thin are useful, says Holden. In particular, the book's focus on calorie counting can be useful.

How Many Calories Do You Need?

"The best thing about the book is that it teaches people how to calculate an approximate basal metabolic rate," says Holden. "That's the number of calories your body needs every day to maintain a constant weight. The number is different for everyone."

The book, says Holden, tells readers to establish their ideal body weight and then multiply that number by 10 to arrive at the daily calorie intake. For example, if your ideal body weight was 130 pounds, you would multiply that 130 by 10 to get 1,300 calories per day.

"That is a very rough estimate of what you need to eat each day at your ideal weight," says Holden. "So that gives you a place to start. If you weigh 160 pounds, and your ideal weight is 130 pounds, then you start a calorie diary to see how much you're eating each day. Then you can get a better idea of how much you can eat every day to start working off weight to get closer to your ideal weight."

That much, she says, is useful. But the book goes on to tout the wonders of low-carb eating as the best way to maximize loss of body fat.

"That's the part you want to avoid," says Holden. "Low-carb diets provide quick weight loss but do not help you maintain weight loss."

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) says that both low-carb and high-protein diets are bad.

"These diets are not safe, they are not healthy, and they are not a good way to try to get healthy," says Leslie Bonci, RD, nutritionist with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Complex and a spokesperson for the ADA. "They provide short-term, rapid weight loss by causing the body to shed water weight and muscle. But that is no way to keep weight off for very long, and it's dangerous to your body chemistry."

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