3. True or false: Most of us eat too many carbohydrates.
True. Americans eat too many calories, period, and many of them come from sweets, sugars, and fats. It's not just about too many carbohydrates but too much of everything, including protein, fat, and alcohol. Your WebMD Weight Loss Clinic eating plan follows the guidelines of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). The NAS recommends a diet in which 45% to 60% of total calories come from carbohydrates, primarily in the form of low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as whole-wheat bread and brown rice. The NAS recommends that 10%-35% of calories come from protein, such as seafood, skinless poultry, and lean meat, and 20%-35% come from healthy fats such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
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.