To Carb, or Not to Carb?
<P>Eat Yourself Thin</P>
Dietitians just plain don't like low-carb or high-protein
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
"That's the part you want to avoid," says Holden.
"Low-carb diets provide quick weight loss but do not help you maintain
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."