On Low Carb Diets

by Andie Mitchell on September 27, 2012

eggs

Low carb dieting peaked as a fad in late 1990s when Atkins was a household name. After Atkins came South Beach, Sonoma, the Zone, and many others. All of these diets relied primarily on restricting carbohydrates to ensure weight loss. Some who had struggled to lose weight on other diet plans saw low carb dieting as a savior; others criticized these diets for being unhealthy or based on pseudo-science. And the thing is,

both groups were partially right.

salmon

Low carb dieting gets a bad rap. Misinformed dieters and critics branded Atkins the “all you can eat bacon diet.” People thought that Atkins advocated eating as much fat as you could possibly stomach and avoiding vegetables at all costs. Dieters who would stuff themselves silly on steak and bacon while never eating broccoli undoubtedly struggled to lose weight. In reality, Atkins just advocated a diet where most of your calories came from fat and protein while still eating vegetables and eventually (after the initial “Induction Phase”), even some fruit. Since fat and protein are more filling and because they’re often harder to binge on (as in, very few people are likely to choose to binge on plain chicken breast), many people had success following this basic pattern.

pork

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating low carb. A diet where you get about 20% of your calories from carbs and the rest from protein and fat can be perfectly healthy, so long as the sources of fat and protein are pure, whole, nutritious foods. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy but they aren’t an essential nutrient. The human body can function normally with very little of them.

grilled chicken

I’ve tried low carb diets in the past. They always followed the same pattern for me. For the first two weeks I’d have a good deal of success, losing at times double digits in pounds. And this makes sense; the first few weeks of low carb dieting usually bring large losses because of a change in water retention (this is not uncommon to other diets). Because I could see my progress clearly on the scale, I felt encouraged. Gradually though, my motivation waned. The cravings for carbs grew in intensity. Cake, cookies, a sandwich- they were all I could think of. I’d begin to yearn for simple carbs that I hadn’t even cared for before, things like crackers and plain white bread. Inevitably, I’d cave.

herb roasted chicken

A low carb lifestyle did not, then, and does not, now, work for me. Because aside from my inability to adhere to it, the very notion of removing a food group from my life is almost so painful I can’t think of it for long without wanting to lock myself inside a bakery and cry. I’m just a carb queen and I’ve owned it. I have always believed it to be easier for me to just eat a more balanced diet in moderation. And maybe that stems from my rebellious nature in the face of even the gentlest restraint, or maybe it just has to do with the fact that I care about frosting as much as or greater than the environment.*

kale

*true.

Low carb diets work for some people and, quite naturally, don’t for others. Like most things in life, it depends entirely on your individual personality, your unique relationship with food. Some people prefer to eat mostly protein and others, like me, can’t make it through a morning without oatmeal. One important thing to remember in this discussion is, eating need not be entirely black and white. It isn’t always necessary that we adhere to one specific diet, when taking bits and pieces that you like from many different ones could benefit you more.

Perhaps you aim to reduce your carb intake, but only with respect to white flour and simple sugars- that’s cool. Perhaps you just love protein as much as I like things that involve maple syrup- and that’s cool, too. Perhaps you find it easier to abstain from pasta or sweets altogether than trying to eat them in smaller servings- also cool. Perhaps you’re so in tune with how you feel physically and mentally that you know- you just know- whether you do best with carbs or without them- and that’s the coolest.
What are your thoughts on low carb diets? Have you ever tried them? Which ones? What were your results?

{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Aria September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I tried a low-carb diet last year and completely omitted bread, pasta, cookies, cake, etc. from my diet but still kept boiled potatoes and oatmeal in. It was really hard in the beginning but then it got progressively easier after maybe 3 weeks… the key is just getting over that hump. I’m 5’4” and lost at least 15 pounds in two months. I think the key was cutting out the unnecessary carbs but also remaining conscious about the other things I ate, strongly reliant on chicken breast, fruits and vegetables. But then I watched Food Inc. and became a vegetarian. It was really hard to keep up the no carbs and no meat and I got pretty thin. So I started eating carbs again but nothing over the top, just when I had a craving. My weight has only gone up maybe 5 pounds but I’m so much happier.

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Matt Green October 17, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Hey Aria, you are right. It is really hard to give up things you have been eating for years. I have been an athlete for over 14 years and pasta and carbs were fuel to playing but now that I’m not playing hockey as much right now I had to stop eating carbs so much. Hard to break habits.

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Melody September 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm

In the fall of 2003, I lost about 30 pounds in 3 months on South Beach…then got pregnant and couldn’t handle the diet anymore. (I ate eggs every morning for breakfast and after I got pregnant, the thought of eggs made me want to puke). After the baby was born, I put that weight (plus more) back on. January of 2011, I reluctantly tried the slow carb diet (or my version of it, anyway) and have essentially eaten that way ever since. I lost 55 pounds over the course of a year and since then have essentially maintained that. Of course, my weight fluctuates. The simplest way to explain the slow carb diet is that I avoid simple carbohydrates (so, I don’t count carbs – I do eat berries, apples, veggies, beans, nuts, meat, etc) and one day a week, I eat whatever I want. At the beginning, I lived for that “cheat” day. I LOVE to cook – and this way of eating allowed me to be creative with food. The reason it took me so long to try another diet is that I couldn’t see myself living without carbs indefinitely so I avoided it altogether. Essentially, indulging once/week it taught me to not see any food as “bad” but to limit those indulgences. I think I’ve become more creative with how I put food together to make it delicious and satisfying. I can order at nearly any restaurant and stick to my way of eating. It doesn’t feel like a diet anymore, just like I’m taking care of myself.

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Liz E. October 1, 2012 at 6:26 am

@Melody: I’ve recently been exploring low carb diets and the slow carb one intrigues me. Did you eat any berries, apples, veggies, beans, nuts, etc. that you wanted during the week, and only allowed yourself things like pasta and bread on your free day? I’ve been experimenting with Atkins and am curious to see how other low carb diets work as well.

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Rachel {studio cuisine} September 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I had a brief stint with the Paleo diet (about a month) at the beginning of this year. I gained about five pounds and a percentage point of body fat. Not very much in the scheme of things but I found that the fat gain was probably a result of binging on dietary fat (almond overload). Also (possibly TMI), it wreaked havoc on my digestive tract (i.e. not using the restroom nearly as often as I was prior to starting the diet). I totally resonated with your craving for things I didn’t even like previously. As soon as the challenge ended, I practically ran to Crumbs and devoured a head-sized cupcake. In my experience, I just don’t think any diet can be one size fits all. While I see the value in eating a diet low in carbs and largely based on the consumption of whole foods, it just doesn’t work for everyone, for both dietary and psychological reasons!

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Stacie @ Snaps and Bits September 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I tried it with my husband back in the day. He lost a ton of weight and I lost none. More recently we’ve been metabolically typed and it makes sense now. I’m a slow oxidizer and should have 60% carbs. He’s the opposite and should have only 20% carbs. He gained all the weight back since he couldn’t sustain Atkins. Now we are doing a tailored in home plan, which I’ll blog about sometimes.

You are so right, what’s right for one person is not right for another!

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Jessalynn September 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I am currently on the primal diet and have been for over a year… While nursing my youngest and now pregnant with my third child. It has done amazing things for me. But this diet was not just about weightloss for me… It was also about getting my blood sugar under control. I was diagnosed with a blood sugar disorder in my teens, saw nutritionists and many doctors. While some things helped, going primal changed my life. I am a new person with a new outlook on life… And I feel 1000x better. I don’t just feast out on bacon or meats… I eat a lot of fresh veggies every day. Like the poster above, I cannot eat eggs while pregnant but have found suitable replacements. It’s definitely not for everyone, I totally agree with that statement. However, I try my best to direct people to make better choices as in less packaged or processed foods.

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Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! September 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm

I’ve tried low carb and variations of it many time. Like you said, it works great for the first couple weeks because you see great losses. Then the realization that you can’t even eat a strawberry kicks in and not being able to eat fresh fruit is crazytalk! It’s definitely not something I could continue for more than a week or two.

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Kels September 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I just like carbs too much, and they’re soo much cheaper :(. I don’t think I could AFFORD to go paleo! That being said, I have to have some of each food group to feel satisfied, no mater how much protein I eat!

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rose September 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I love carbs. In fact, I could probably live off of nothing but ham and Swiss on huge slices of rye bread washed down with a sugary lemonade with cookies for dessert. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 18. I know for others who don’t struggle with chronic disease, a diet low in carbohydrates is merely another fad diet to try, but for me it is essential to maintaining my health, i.e. optimal blood sugar control. I like to get the majority of my carbs from leafy greens and berries. I also like full fat cheeses and nuts, but I try to limit my protein intake (protect the kidneys!)But I do like to give myself a treat once a week, like a small bowl of frozen yogurt or a Reese’s cup. Or two.

I think low carb diets can be healthy, but it’s about determining what’s realistic for you. And go light on the bacon. ;)

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Michelle in N. Cal September 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I just got over a 10 day stint of “low carbing”. I have done it at various times in the past and my body and mind always do well on it (great energy/bloat disappears) but eventually I crash and burn due to cravings …

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Amy September 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

As a dietitian working in weight loss research I cannot count the number of patients I have had who have tried every low carb diet under the sun. They all claim to have had success, which begs the question in my mind, ‘why are you here seeing me then?’ Carbohydrates are essential for brain function, and energy production, and carbohydrate foods contain fibre, B vitamins, and other nutrients necessary for healthy functioning. What is important is the type of carbohydrates people consume, and in the case of weight loss, how many calories they are consuming over all. Of course, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ prescription for daily percentage of calories from each macronutrient, but carbohydrates shouldn’t be cut too severely if people expect to be able to maintain their diet over the long term.
I have tried low carb dieting myself, during a younger, sillier phase in my life, and found it impossible after a few weeks. I was moody, nasty, and in desperate need of a cookie. When I tried to lose weight the next time I focused instead on whole grains and whole foods and have managed to keep that weight off for over two years.

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Marcia January 18, 2013 at 6:12 am

Hey Amy..your just the person I needed to run into. I am type 2 Diabetes and was on a wonderful diet when I came home from the hospital..but I lost it..It was as 1400 calorie and it was broke down in breakfast,snack lunch snack,dinner,snack. I ate every 3-4 hours and lost a ton of weight. My question is..could you PLEASE tell me how to break down the carbs,fruit and veggies..I can’t remember how many Carbs was for breakfast,lunch and dinner and I ate fruit or yogurt for my snacks..I would be so appreciative if you could help me..Thank you so much!

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Shirley Nash April 11, 2013 at 4:06 am

Marcia, Call the hospital you were in and get a copy of your hospital records, that should tell about your Diet. Then contact whoever made the diet for you to make another one and send it to you. Hope this helps

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Alma September 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

My roommate has been doing the Paleo diet for the last month or so. He seems to be doing really well, but that can also be attributed to a huge spike in his activity levels (he bikes 4-5 miles a day after mostly being inactive). He seems to do very well, but he seems to eat the same food over and over again. He also binged when he went to a conference because it was hard for him to find things that fit with the diet. So far, he’s been very disciplined about it.

Personally, I could never do it. I think part of my personal relationship with food came about due to childhood poverty where I was literally forced into not eating certain foods (because they were too expensive) and then being thrown in to near-binge situations when food was more plentiful. Deprivation for me really challenges my ability to be healthful. I struggle with balance, but I make good choices when I’m conscious of my decisions and am true to myself emotionally. When I’m in people-pleasing mode, it’s much harder.

While I definitely think food is something you have to get under control, I think emotions and figuring out why it’s easy to throw myself under the bus helps me be conscious and makes it harder to give in to the cravings–though I think giving in to cravings is okay–in moderation, if it’s high quality. I also think activity really has to be emphasized. When I was very skinny, I ran a lot and probably could have eaten anything (within reason) and remained that weight. When you see food as fuel, though, you don’t want food that makes you feel gross…and those foods that are bad for you tend to really make you feel gross when you’ve changed your diet on a fundamental basis.

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Ksenija September 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I was frustrated with low carb diets when I tried them a few times – always found myself craving carbs so soon, that I did not even make it through the first 2 days or so. Than I stumbled over some research that the human brain actually functions on carbs (for example: http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/carbs.html)and began to understand why I was craving sugar like crazy when I spend hours preparing for an excam at university. Nowadays I eat just as many carbs as my brain asks for and do not feel guilty at all – I am ok to balance it out by eating less fatty foods.

However – just out of curiosity, how can someone believe that an apple or orange or banana are bad for you? Most low carb diets keep fruit intake to a minimum or ban it totally.

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rose September 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

I think those who follow an ultra low carb diet find that their cravings for carbs decrease after the first week if they avoid most carb-containing things, which includes fruit. Many low carbers are also pre-diabetics. If I eat a banana my blood sugar will spike very high, which it itself is a problem.

Also, the body will naturally convert protein to glucose in the liver and the need for refined carbohydrate like bread and pasta is actually very little to none. I do research in neuroscience and it’s been shown that the brain will actually function poorly one takes in too many carbohydrates. But it’s all about what YOU do well on, no one should be expected to follow an ultra low carb diet because it’s the fashion.

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Your body produces ketones which your brain uses for fuel as well. Eating carbs for brain function is not necessary.

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Liz E. October 1, 2012 at 6:36 am

Fruit is healthy–but also contains a high sugar content. (Although, I think consuming natural sugar from fruit is better than consuming refined sugar in the form of desserts). But if you are wanting to get your body into ketosis to burn fat stores for energy you have to pretty severely limit carb intake; at first, this, too, includes fruits and high carb vegetables.

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LiveBetter October 1, 2012 at 9:27 am

You only need to be “fat adapted” – you don’t need to live in a constant state of ketosis (unless you want to). Not sure the body knows the difference of fructose from fruit or fructose from other sources – still gets processed through the liver :)

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Kara September 27, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I’ve tried the Adkins diet in the past and ALWAYS fight a fever for the first few days from the low keytones. I found it miserable.if I’m I’m not mistaken i believe that the diet allows for 20g of NON SUGAR carbs per day. Unfortunately that equals some small amounts of cheese and some green veggies. This allows for very little carbs, especially if you consider that the carbs you eat CANNOT contain ANY sugar at all . you can eventually starts adding small amounts of fruit….but it’s hard to make it that far and it can take a long time. Also, being in the medical field…..Most M.D’s are not fans OR no carb diets,wich Adkins essentially is, at least for the first month or two. Low carband low Calorie diets are much healthier and are proven to be easier to sustain,

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Kara September 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Sorry for typos, Android makes it hart to type :)

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tiffany September 28, 2012 at 4:37 am

not to be a prick, but as a medical student, i am highly skeptical that your statement about most MD’s not being fans of low carb diets is true. I just wanted to point that out so people aren’t mislead by that comment.

If your statement was actually true, there wouldn’t still be tons of clinical research conducted on atkins diet anymore – because it wouldn’t make sense to, most people would not be interested in doing the research if atkins had strong evidence of being bad, and the National institute of health would most definitely not waste their money on low carb diet research if there wasn’t any medical prospect in it.

yes, it is true that there is the possibility of going into ketoacidosis from severely low carbs, but lots of food still contain SOME carbs- it might actually be impossible to intake zero sugar like you mentioned.

based on my guess (i have not looked up the numbers- this is simply a guess), it is not very common for atkins dieter to get to that condition. biochemically, it does make complete biological sense why atkins does work- your body is setup where when there IS SUGAR AVAILABLE to burn, your body PREFERS to burn sugar as an energy source, NOT fat. In fact, as carbs are getting broken down, the metabolic products go and INHIBIT fat breakdown (you can find that information in any textbook – it has been known for at least a few decades).

actually, the Journal of American Medical Association JUST published at the end of june of this year about the research done at Harvard; it showed the great benefits of low carb diets in weight loss maintenance (Effects of Dietary Composition on Energy Expenditure During Weight-Loss Maintenance by Ebbeling C, Swain J, etc…). The study involved low fat, moderate carbs, and atkns diet. low and behold, it found that both the resting AND total metabolic rates were a lot greater for those on the atkins diet.

This link has a less scientific summary of the article (http://refusetoregain.com/refusetoregain/2012/06/jama-study-confirms-maintenance-benefits-of-low-carb-diet.html).

anyway, it is still a controversial topic, and lots of research is being done on obesity, weight loss, etc. there is no long-term research about the long term effects of low carb diet, so at this point, nobody knows the absolute answer for that- yet. although my biochemistry professors who are some of the experts in the field of sugar metabolism all seem to be big proponents of low carb diets…(side note: ironically, the professors lecturing about diabetes, metabolism, etc. were all overweight…)

but of course, i am still a young naive med student that doesn’t really know anything, and even doctors don’t know everything about the long term and systemic (in your entire body) physiologic effects of different diets, so i personally shy away from making extremely bold statements like that at this point anyways..

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rose September 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

I am a diabetic and my doctor seems pleased with the results of my low carbohydrate diet, which isn’t ultra low carb (~100g a day), but I’ve seen improvements not just in weight but A1c and lipids (despite eating more fat). I too find that my doctors at least are interested in the results and will suggest changes if needed.

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Dr. Eric Westman is president elect of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians and Dr. Mary Vernon before him. Both are HUGE advocates of low carb living. There are lots of bariatric doctors doing low carb because it works – no gastric bypass needed. There are also fertility doctors using it (ie. Dr. Fox http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0WOqaTTzaI). My neighbor with PCOS has managed to reverse some of her symptoms with an extremely low carb diet.

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Rachel February 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hi
Have you had full biochemistry and integrative metabolism since you’ve written this post?
Fat is actually the preferred substrate for breakdown when you’re not in a state of excess food/excess glucose
It’s called the Randle mechanism
The acetylCoA from lipolysis actually inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase and inhibits glycolysis and the citrate produced from it in the TCA inhibits PFK1 again inhibiting glycolysis and inhibiting the use of glucose as a fuel
From what i know, This is not rather same thing as full-on, that would be diabetic, Ketosis and I don’t know why people seem to think Ketosis is good because it’s actually damaging and creates a whole bunch of problems like acidosis , etc… This is more controlled in you’re not overtaxing the system because you’re still getting some carbs (and complex are good because they don’t create the high blood sugar spikes)
But the glycerol is then made into sugar if you need it as I’m sure you’re aware
Im not an Atkins fan, I mostly eat low carb in that you could say I mostly eat veggies, moderate sugar intake only from fruits or complex carbs (and natural sugars only at that – unless I splurge on a pop lol) only good fats (ie avocados and almonds) little chicken here and there, very minimal red meat – ie natural foods in moderation with lower carb overall
And it works for me and i am no longer experiencing those crazy study cravings (I’m sure youre also familiar with!!) any more since ive been doing this since the new year!
From one med student to another!!
Good luck with med school Tiffany!

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Liz E. October 1, 2012 at 6:43 am

@Kara: my husband and I have been doing the Atkins low carb approach for a while (he longer than myself) and have had positive results. Because Atkins counts only net carbs–total carbs per serving less total grams of fiber per serving–you can actually have a surprisingly large amount of healthy veggies (and yes, even cheese) each day. In fact, the Atkins program very strongly encourages that at least 12-15 carbs each day come from fresh vegetables. And once the Induction phase is over (it lasts 2 weeks) participants begin slowly and steadily increasing daily carb intake and diversifying acceptable foods.

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Erin September 28, 2012 at 12:37 am

I am a longtime reader and am usually very impressed with your realistic view of food. However, this post makes me very uneasy. It’s probably because I have struggled with a restrictive eating disorder for most of my life, but I can’t believe you stated that there is nothing wrong with a low carb diet. Any time you restrict a food group, you are beginning a very precarious flirtation with an eating disorder. Low carb is so not the answer and literally everyone I know who has done it, has admitted to binging on carbs, because their body so desperately needed it.
Because of my eating disorder, I have done so much research and really the best thing to do is, eat whatever you want, when you want. I wanted sugar, so I inhaled as much sugar as I wanted for a month. Eventually the craving passed and I haven’t had any sugar (besides fruit) in six months. If the craving hits again, I will go for it.
The reason that we are fat as a society is because we diet. Restricting your calories sets you up to fail and then people feel guilty because they ended up binging. Your body has a natural set point at which it feels best. I know you believe this because when you stopped running, the weight stayed off.
I am not trying to go on a rant but I just really feel like dieting is not the answer. You are actually one of the only “healthy living bloggers” that seem to truly enjoy food and life. And I give you so much credit for eating whole food and I am in no way attacking you.
I would just maybe appreciate you thinking about such blanket statements as, we don’t really need carbs. (I know that isn’t verbatim what you said, but that’s how it read to me)

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tiffany September 28, 2012 at 3:54 am

the definition of essential nutrient means, you HAVE to intake it by eating it, i.e. your body can’t make it.

while your brain uses sugar/carbs as the main metabolic source, sugar/carbs is NOT an essential nutrient- your body is actually capable of making sugar from protein (if you are interested in reading more about it, the metabolic pathway is called “gluconeogenesis”).

just wanted to point out that it is a KNOWN medical and scientific fact, that sugar/carbs is not an essential nutrient- so andie is by no means at fault for making “blank statements.” in fact, i appraise her for using a correct scientific term.

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rose September 28, 2012 at 9:36 am

Thank you for pointing this out!

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Agree that sugar/grains are not essential :)

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) October 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

You said it perfectly and are 100% correct!

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Tess September 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

THANK YOU for making this comment. I first started reading this blog because of the realistic and healthy view of food that you mentioned. However, the past couple of posts have also left me uneasy. Each one has mentioned something about diets, not eating specific things, calorie counting/watching what you eat, vs. intuitive eating. I don’t mean to complain, as blogs serve as an outlet for the blogger to say what they want, but I just thought I’d mention that recently the tone of this particular one has changed and perhaps begun to contradict itself.

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admin September 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Tess,
I emailed Erin to let her know my response to her comment above, but I feel it’s only fair to reply to you as well. I bet there are other readers who feel similarly. First, hi! I know how long you’ve been a reader and I am so deeply grateful that you’re here. I’ve always liked your name. How are you?
Next, I understand that there might exist a distaste for the topics I’ve covered lately. I, myself, will admit that it has been hard to want to discuss the specifics of weight loss and dieting. It’s almost foreign to me. However, the reason that I’ve chosen to cover these topics has been due to no less than hundreds of reader requests. The fact is, lots of folks who are trying to lose weight want to know what a fellow person who has lost a significant amount of weight thinks about the nitty gritty of losing weight. And that’s cool. I don’t do it all the time, but recently I’ve taken to answering questions that I get most often via email and comment.
It’s true that most often I choose to discuss the bigger picture of health and food and the more abstract parts of weight/body image. This is because I intensely hold on to the belief that the mind and spirit need to be loved and accepted before anything can be changed. However, I also understand that there exists a big group of people who want to know about more specific approaches to weight loss, who want to talk openly with a group of people (the community here) about the practical aspects of eating better, eating less, or moving more.
My fear in publishing posts like this is actualized in knowing that you’ve found they make you uneasy. Trust me, I don’t mean to turn my back on any of my older post styles and tones. I’m simply choosing to tune into some of the other areas that people want to hear about.
I deeply, deeply respect and admire where you’re coming from. I get that one of the parts of this blog that people resonate with is my love of, well, I guess- loving ourselves regardless of size. I get that people dig the fact that I stay away from being prescriptive in terms of weight loss. These aspects are still a very large part of me and they’ll never change. All I’m trying to do, perhaps especially in the past two weeks or so, is acknowledge all the wonderful people who come here.
That said, it’s not forever. Expect lots more of my signature ramblings :)

I hope you understand.

Lots of respect,
Andie

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Blue September 29, 2012 at 6:47 am

Dear Andie,

I’ve read your blog from the start but have never commented before. After reading some of the comments on this post I just wanted to let you know that I couldn’t be more grateful for your honesty, willingness to share your life experiences and understanding of the strugless when it comes to weight matters.

I am thankful every day for you – even though we’ll probably never meet in person.

Being able to read your blog and in doing so,learn from you feels like a miraculous blessing to me.
I hope you continue to follow your heart and that people like me may keep being a part in that.

Best wishes,
Blue
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Tess September 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Oh how I love you! Let me just tell you that not many other bloggers would respond to a comment such as mine. I truly appreciate your response, and am sorry that you had to defend your own personal feelings and beliefs. I so so so look forward to more of your “signature rantings”!

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Trish September 28, 2012 at 4:13 am

Bingo Andie! It’s all about moderation and listening to your body. I’ve been on a modified Paleo (I still eat beans & dairy) since May and cutting out the simple carbs/sugars has been wonderful. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds, have energy for days, sleep better, feel better, look better. When I want a cookie or an ice-cream cone, I eat one without guilt. But most days I don’t even think about sugary treats.

One of the tricks I borrorwed from you is starting lunch and dinner with a huge, green salad.

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Claudia September 28, 2012 at 6:02 am

I’m actually started a modified version of Paleo today too! :) I like your attitude about it, and I hope I can keep an attitude like yours throughout too!

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Michele September 28, 2012 at 5:55 am

I loosely follow the Sugar Busters diet, which is low glycemic. The first few years I followed faithfully, but then I started dreaming and obsessing about mashed potatoes. I’m less stringent now, but am always aware. I still don’t eat sugar, but if I want white potatoes or other “bad” carbs, I allow myself a small portion.

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Nidia September 28, 2012 at 6:32 am

I’ve on my own tailored low carb diet now for about 3 or 4 weeks and have lost about 6 lbs. I am overweight and have been most of my life. The last time I went to have a check up my fasting glucose levels were above normal even while everything else was perfect. I have a very long family history of diabetes and the doctor believes I might be insulin resistance.

I’ve tried Atkins before but always got thrown off the Induction phase because it was just too restrictive and I’d binge. I’ve been eating a generally low carb diet but I still eat berries, apples, beans, nuts and greek yogurt and use sugar substitutes. I really believe I have found the perfect eating plan for my body. I have never felt better I have tons of energy and do not crave breads and other carbs.

My husband on the other hand eats plenty of carbs and is also losing weight. Everyone’s body is different and requires different things. I’m just happy that I’ve found a way of eating that is 1. helping me lose weight and hopefully bring down my glucose levels and 2. that I really feel I could eat this way the rest of my life.

I’m just trying to find my happy place with food.

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Natalie @ Free Range Human September 28, 2012 at 6:43 am

I followed the Atkins diet for a few weeks in high school. Perhaps I wasn’t doing it right, but it didn’t leave a good impression. I literally got to a point where I was too weak to walk up a flight of stairs. That’s when I stopped!

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Millerette September 28, 2012 at 6:45 am

I am currently on a low carb diet and am going strong on day 19 (link to my rambling inner monologue here; http://hurricaneblonde.tumblr.com/).

Success for me has come (so far) because I didn’t cut out EVERYTHING. I still eat fruit and have a bite size baby candy bar every few days. And the reason is simple; I can’t.

I am a binge eater. I eat when I’m happy, bored, sad, when I get home from work etc.

I know enough about myself to know that if I have a small plate of pasta, I will want more. I won’t feel satisfied. And it’s not because I’m actually hungry, it’s just because it tasted SO GOOD (I swear my mother is Paula Deen, MAN can my momma cook!).

I have recently started to see a Psychiatrist about a few things, and one of my main issues is my binge eating and issues with food in general. Until I get those issues under control, I feel like I need to put more restrictions on my eating habits so that I have something that reins me in. I want to be at a place where I’m not so extreme about everything, not just food. Until then, low carb works for me.

I really do love carbs, that desire has not gone away. I am a very serious chips and salsa addict, and I LOVE tortillas (I live in AZ, they are their own food group here) but until I feel like I can stop at a half a tortilla, or 5 chips, I need to have limits set up for myself.

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abby September 28, 2012 at 6:48 am

I tried a no/lo-carb diet a couple of years ago, and it worked, but after a couple of weeks I was one cranky b*tch. For me, it wasn’t worth it. I’m happier when I have carbs! I’ve been focusing on eating healthier for the last six months or so, and with the help of myfitnesspal.com and weight watchers, I’ve lost 25 pounds!

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Lorren September 28, 2012 at 6:55 am

Eating only 20% of your diet in carbs is nutritionally unsound. The reason low-carb diets work is because it forces people to cut out simple carbohydrates such as sugars and white bread, but the truth is that it really is a bad idea to cut out too many whole wheats, fruits, and vegetables. It may work to lose weight, but it is not a healthy way to do it.

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Darcy October 1, 2012 at 9:04 am

It’s actually no where near bad to cut out wheat… Wheat keeps you hungry, it’s an appetite stimulant. It’s also been linked to mental health trouble, diabetes etc…

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LiveBetter October 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

Totally agree Darcy! I read Wheat Belly and no more wheat for me. The improvements in my healthy have been nothing short of amazing. Humans lived for millions of years without grains – not sure why people view them as a necessary food group.

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Leslie October 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Right on! It bothers me when whole grains are lumped in with fruit and vegetables as if they’re essential. If you want to eat sugar carbs wheat etc.. That’s cool but don’t judge me for choosing a life without. I’ve lost 50 lbs in 6 months doing The Belly Fat Cure and have loved every moment. Low carb is the only diet that has worked for me. It has taught me to think of food as nutrition and fuel, not as love/entertainment/rewards/celebrations

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TJ September 28, 2012 at 6:59 am

Sometimes more than others, my body is a carb loving machine and that is almost all I want. (Pssst…..PMS!!) TMI, I know. *Wink :) I try to limit my grain intake, 1-2 servings a day of whole grains. As for fruit and vegetables? I say have at it! Eat as many Veggies as you want, bright colorful, especially dark green leafy ones. Fruit I try to keep in moderation 1-3 servings a day. I love the book by Jonny Bowden (The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth), and also by George Matelijan (The Worlds Healthiest Foods). I have found these books to be a great reference guide. It is so nice just to cruise through them and remind your self what wholesome goodness should be appearing in your life most often. I have lost 40 lbs, taking me almost a full year to accomplish. One year of successfully maintaining has been WHOOHOO FANTASTIC! Andie your blog has been truly inspiring and such a help to me. Thank you.

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sweet addy September 28, 2012 at 7:01 am

I’m on a low-calorie diet and I prioritize protein. At meals, I eat my protein first – I often have meals that only consist of protein (steak and eggs for breakfast, for example). I aim for a certain number of grams of protein per day. But when I’m done with my protein for the day and still have extra calories to “play” with, I have no problem eating carbs. What generally ends up happening is that I get somewhere between 30 and 40% of my calories from carbs and 30 to 40% of my calories from protein.

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Mari @ Wine Required September 28, 2012 at 7:06 am

I did low-carb diets in the past and they worked for me. However, I like cake. So… it was a temporary diet.

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Cindy September 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

I think people don’t understand that Low-Carb is a general term for what is really a lifestyle with MANY variations.

Even with Atkins, while you start with no fruit you most certainly eat fruit and even some grains by the time you hit your goal (if you follow the diet properly). The problem with the Atkins diet and the general public is that the media and, yes, even some sectors of the health/nutrition/medical community has made it seem like you can ONLY eat meat and cheese and bacon for the rest of your life. And that is a lie!

Also, there are some people with serious metabolic abnormalities who do need to seriously cut their carbohydrate intake in order to be healthy, feel well, have energy, and potentially decrease or eliminate the use of medications.

A low-carb diet can be anywhere from 5-150g of carbohydrates per day. That is a huge range. The high end of the range leaves a lot of room for starches, grains, and fruit if you desire to have them.

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Heidi September 28, 2012 at 8:51 am

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was given a class on proper nutrition to lower your blood sugar. Their eating plan made the most sense to me that I had ever heard!

It’s basic points were:

1) Don’t eat highly processed carbohydrates
2) Eat whole foods as much as possible
3) Do not eat more than 30 grams of carbs at one time
4) Let there be 3 hours between meals to give your body a rest from digestion and allow your blood sugar to come down
5) Never eat carbs without some protein to avoid blood sugar spikes

#3 & #4 I was really intrigued by. Their science showed that more than 30 carbs a meal really spiked blood sugar because it is more than most people’s bodies can handle at once without causing a spike. Even people with perfect health experience spikes, they can just process them better. I stayed around 15-20 carbs a meal and controlled the GD with diet alone! Now I know eating 90 carbs a day doesn’t sound low carb, but when spread evenly over the day in 5 meals it was very controlled and my numbers stayed low.

Turns out letting your body get hungry is actually good for your blood sugar levels since it gives your pancreas a rest and allows your body to rest insulin production. That way your don’t spend the day snacking all the time and keeping your blood sugar levels constantly elevated all day.

I felt so good doing this that I continue to eat this way after my perfectly healthy son was born and am losing weight like never before; consistently with little effort. As a chronic yoyo dieter it is such a relief to finally have found a way of eating that really works for my body and doesn’t keep me thinking about food all day!

On my last visit with the dietician before the birth of my son I asked her why these guidelines weren’t better known since they work so well, she said there was no money to be made in it so it wasn’t a “famous” diet. Sad but true.

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Heidi September 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

PS:
After my son was born the Gestational Diabetes went away and I eat like this now because I want to ;)

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rose September 28, 2012 at 9:48 am

Thank you for sharing! I too have heard not to eat more than 30g carb at a time. I like that advice, I feel like that’s about the max I can do w/o a blood sugar spike. I was dx Type 2 very young, although now being treated as LADA (or Type 1.5)

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Jenna September 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Hey Heidi!
I was really intrigued by your comment. I am pregnant and feel like my blood sugar is swinging wildly–with me hanging on for dear life! Do you have any resources you could point me to?
Thanks so much!

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Stephanie September 28, 2012 at 9:29 am

Back in less than 8 years ago my mom lost close to 100 pounds eating basically cheese, bacon, and diet Coke every day. Today she’s heavier than she ever was and she’s in terrible health (shocking, eating a pound of bacon a day isn’t good for your heart). She still likes to talk about “when she was skinny”, comparing it to my lifestyle change, and it’s hard to take someone in that position seriously.

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Cindy September 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

I certainly don’t advocate eating a pound of bacon every day but did you know that more than half of the fat in bacon is monounsaturated?

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Hope September 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

Since being on a clean eating/ healthy lifestyle bender, I’ve developed an odd relationship with some carbs. I hardly ever eat pasta, rice, or bread. I eat copious amounts of fruits, veggies, beans, and other “whole” items which contain carbs. I still will have a sandwich, but generally on a lower carb bread, like a sandwich thin. The funny thing is, I love desserts like you do, so I’ll still have the occasional pastry and have ice cream or chocolate very frequently. My thought is I’d rather use my carbs on what I really love then waste them on pasta or rice regularly, ya know?

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lisas September 28, 2012 at 10:42 am

I have been eating lower carb for over a year, approximately 100g of low GI carbs daily averaged over a week. Eating lower carbs than that really lowered my energy for workouts and played havoc with my hypothyroid issues. I found with much experimentation, I need adequate carbs for adequate t4 to t3 conversion.

I’m happy with a lower carb lifestyle and very occasional sweet treat. Sugar was never my thing…..steak with charred fat, butternut squash with sour cream, fresh green beans….YUM.

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Melissa September 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

I found Michael Pollen’s “Food Rules” to be one of the best and easiest books ever in regards to what we should eat. Two of my favorite quotes:

“Eat (real) food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

I do also eat meat and dairy, organic and grass fed if possible and affordable and I allow myself to indulge in treats (cupcakes, cookies, etc…) on occassion, but only if they are homemade (with very few exceptions in the past 6 months).

Eating this way makes sense. It’s not a “diet”, it’s not about restriction, it’s not about satisfying a sugar craving that was in reality caused by an overload of sugar in the first place.

Be kind to your bodies. They are the only ones we’ve got. Fuel them with food naturally found in nature, in as close to it’s original state as possible. Veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs. Once those artificial sugar cravings subside (and it can takes weeks, which is HARD), your body will thank you.

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Sarah September 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I’ve been messing with low carb on and off since the beginning of the year. My original idea that Atkins was a faddy diet based on eating bacon and cheese has now been corrected.

A bit of research around low carb diets, including Atkins, Paleo and in particular the Primal Blueprint has led me to think that there is genuine good scientific principles behind eating a lower carb higher fat/protein diet.

The current position on saturated fat to my mind is now grey as to whether its good/bad/middling, and I think that refined carbohydrates are at least as contributory to the risk of serious diseases.

Personally, low carb suits me, it keeps me full, especially a low carb breakfast, but I’ve only been messing with low carb rather than following it strictly.

I have found out that I need fruit to keep my digestion going, and that I can quite happily eat a meal with no carbs i.e. pasta, bread, rice, however I don’t think I’ll ever go completely Primal as I do like a bit of cake from time to time ;)

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Robyn September 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I don’t follow any sort of Low Carb diet plan, or any diet in general….but I have recently cut out wheat, and have never felt better. After a month of eating primarily veggies, fruits, lean meats, eggs, cheese and nuts, I have lost 7 lbs and I feel so much better. But I’m also a person who has never been “in love” with breads, bagels, pretzels…..and so on. For me, this works. And I definitely don’t eat a pound of bacon every day!

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JaNelle September 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I have tried several version’s of the low carb diet. Each time I’ve lost weight. However, I’ve never been able to sustain any of those plans. And when I go back to eating carbs, I gain the weight. I’m attempting a much more balanced approach to eating. I don’t like the idea of excluding a food group. I know that I won’t be able to do that for the rest of my life. So I’m attempting to find a healthy balance with food – all food groups!

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Dawn September 28, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I must confess, I am a carb queen too. I have seen my friends lose a lot of weight by cutting out cards, but I refuse to attempt it – I just know I would inevitably fail and I really don’t like to fail.

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Dawn September 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

whoops, I meant carbs, not cards!

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Bek @ Crave September 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I’ve actually found that as I introduce more carbs into my diet it’s helped with my hunger and cravings levels. With all the exercise I do I couldn’t possibly completely eliminate them- like you I’d end up eating worse by cutting them out than by letting them stay. I’m lucky that I prefer wholegrains and healthy type carbs.

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Chelsea September 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I’ve actually enjoyed reading your last few posts here lately.
I’ve recently restarted the south beach plan which I lost about 30ish lbs on about 3 years ago and slowly gained them back since. I have PCOS and this disorder makes it super hard for me to lose the weight, but the heavier I am the more prevalent the symptoms of it are.. Vicious cycle. Insulin resistance has become a big issue over the past few years, but when i’m on a low sugar diet its not nearly as big of a problem.

One fantastic thing about being on the south beach diet is that it doesn’t restrict all sugars. For the 1st 2 weeks it urges you to give up most things, but you can still have cheeses and tomatoes. Then after these 1st weeks you’ve broken your “addiction” to sugar it lets you gradually add good sugars back.
I swear by it, I know it works for me and whether people think its healthy or not, I’m a healthier, more energized person after restricting these carbs than I was eating a salad and fruit every meal. Thats just how God created this body to react to food. Low Carb works for me.. and thats the important thing.

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NeighborhoodTrainer September 29, 2012 at 4:09 am

I think the problem is that people start low carb diets without enough knowledge and lack a plan. They eliminate carbs from their diet and one day open the flood gates again and say it didn’t work. Whatever you do to lose weight, it should be a sustainalble lifestyle change, not a temporary abstention or limiting of food that is unrealistic to keep.

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Alice September 29, 2012 at 7:13 am

I think the problem with all diets that aren’t about straight calorie/points counting is that they require long-term, if not permanent, exclusion of certain foods or food groups. And for most humans, there will come a point when the urge to eat a slice of cake or a cookie or a cheeseburger becomes too strong. And then for many people becomes a binge.

Frankly, life without cake, cookies or cheeseburgers is not a life I want to live. I don’t eat many of these because I am trying to lose weight, but getting into my skinny jeans HAS to be compatible with living my life, and that includes letting people cook for me, being spontaneous, going on holiday, baking, eating and drinking out. And none of those things, for me, are compatible with low-carb dieting.

Andie, I am one of those readers who requested more posts along these lines, so thank you.

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silvertrish September 29, 2012 at 9:59 am

I used to call myself “paleo”, but I’m not. I don’t go out of my way to eat carbs (I don’t eat bread, pasta, grains of any sort), but I eat a TON of fresh veggies, salads, and all the fruit I want. I say I’m not paleo because I don’t eat enough protein and fat as they recommend. The thought of eating a plate of veggies is a lot more appealing than eating a steak.

That being said, I don’t really find anything but homemade bread appealing, and even then, I don’t crave it very often. I do eat some bread (like take out burgers once in a blue moon), but I like to keep my food as unprocessed as possible. I’m happier that way. I didn’t lose a lot of weight from it, but it made me feel a lot less lethargic than my old carb-centric diet. That’s why I’m sticking to it.

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Tara Walker September 29, 2012 at 11:14 am

I am currently on a low carb, NOT NO carb diet. I am with you. The NO carb diet is ridiculously out of the question! Although I don’t love frosting more than the environment, I do love PASTRIES waaay more than soo many types of food.
Because I have PCOS I have found that low carb is about the only way my body will let go of fat right now. I stay under 40g of carbs a day. Most of the carbs I eat come from veggies and lean proteins or nuts, beans, etc.
However, there are those days, like yesterday, when a Pumpkin Pie from McDonald’s MUST be consumed for mental health reasons :-) All in all, I am with you – everyone’s body is different and it’s all about moderation!

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm

My neighbor has PCOS too (for many years). Extremely low carb is the only thing working to improve her symptoms. When you have PCOS you are much more metabolically “damaged” than others and really need to be careful with carbs. This is a great video fyi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0WOqaTTzaI.

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Diane Leach September 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm

As a longtime reader who enjoys your site, I’d like to add that no/low carb isn’t a choice for all of us. I am a lifelong sufferer of bowel disease, and though I love vegetables, I cannot digest them. Most fruits are sadly out of the question. Nuts and berries would kill me. Rice, pasta, and chicken broth are sometimes the only foods I am able to eat. I do my best to eat vegetables daily–in fact, to have a balanced, healthy diet–but will never be able to “pave the plate” with veggies. I am 5’4 and about 128 right now–about five pounds above where I’d like to be, but not overweight. My point is we’re all different. We all have to find what we can live with, what keeps us healthy, happy, and sane.

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candace September 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Let me preface this comment by saying I absolutely ADORE this blog. It makes my day when I check my e-mail and see “Can You Stay For Dinner?” sitting in my inbox. With that said, I am going to have to disagree with a portion of this post.

The statement “Carbohydrates are a good source of energy but they aren’t an essential nutrient. The human body can function normally with very little of them.” isn’t accurate. One of my biggest pet peeves as a registered dietitian is to try to get my clients away from the low carb diet craze. My main reason being it offers fast, but unsustainable weight loss. In the ideal situation, your body runs at its peak with the diet providing ~60% of its calories from Carbs… well over half. And even higher if your an athlete.

Now that I got that out of my system… Can You Stay For Dinner is still the best overall wellness/foodie blog I have come across and the way you express yourself is so honest and refreshing. Can’t wait for the next post!

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

So are you saying all the low carb doctors (like Dr. Eric Westman president elect of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians) are wrong (or seriously misguided)? I’ve spend hundreds of hours reading and listening to them all and the science is really on their side. Even high performance athletes do well on low carb (and many of them are low carb they just don’t promote that). Good read is The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance by Dr. Phinney and Dr. Volek. http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Science-Carbohydrate-Performance/dp/0983490716 “The keto-adapted athlete benefits from superior fuel flow not only when nearing glycogen depletion, but also during training, recovery, and in response to resistance exercise as well.”

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Darcy October 1, 2012 at 9:14 am

Can you clarify if you’re referring to carbs from greens (and other veg) or if you’re including wheat and grains? If so, can you comment on the science behind wheat and it’s poor nutritional impact on the body?

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Anna September 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I have been varying stages of overweight for much of my life, but I had never tried low-carb until this year. I just didn’t think I could handle it, thought “Oh, I love bread/potatoes/sugar too much to give it up, it wouldn’t work for me.” Several factors led to my current low-carb lifestyle. At the beginning of this year, I was about 40 pounds heavier than when I met my husband in 2008 (and he had gained double that!). We did a health-screening required by our insurance company and his numbers were BAD. Mine were okay, but I felt like crap. He had a friend who was close to his age and who lived a similar lifestyle die suddenly. We had watched the documentary “Fat Head” (about a man who documents his low-carb diets and stuns his doctor with improved weight, cholesterol, etc.) within the past year, and then one of my favorite bloggers (Brittany Gibbons) wrote about her success with a low-carb diet. I went into my husband’s office and said, “Hey, why don’t we try it?”

We eat a lot of protein and veggies, but not much fruit. I find it amazingly easy. I love to cook, and thanks to the internet, thousands of great low-carb recipes are at my fingertips. I do not miss refined carbs the way I thought I would. I feel much better when I don’t eat them (less full and bloated). I lost about 20 pounds, then got super off-track this summer and am back to it again. My husband has lost close to 40 pounds. We’ve seen all of our numbers improve, and have both been able to stop taking BP meds. We allow ourselves more carbs a couple of days a week. My mom and I run a bakery, and I have a super-sweet tooth, but I’m finding a balance of just having a couple of treats a week, or taking a bite of something here and there. Some people argue that as soon as you start eating carbs again, you gain all the weight back. Well, if you binge on carbs, of course that’s true, but the low-carb lifestyle agrees with me so much that I plan to stick with it for life!

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Sonal September 30, 2012 at 5:52 am

It’s true a life without sweet potatoes, oatmeal and birthday cake would not be for me! I am a fan of taking away the white flour/pasta/ bread and bringing on the wholemeal- but I’m happier with a balanced diet than eliminating anything completely :)

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Shira September 30, 2012 at 7:39 am

I find just being mindful about portions with carbs is the trick.. just knowing they are more dense in calories and balancing them out with other foods. I do the same thing with proteins! And I also bypass the ones I don’t love, like pasta and rice (weird, I know).. but I also bypass all foods I don’t like :) I love bagels, oatmeal, fruit, potatoes and Desserts wayy too much to give up carbs! I’d be sad and cranky, and at a loss of something to eat that would be satisfying. Sometimes i think people really overthink their diets in terms of cutting out food groups or balancing them in exact ratios.. unless there is a medical condition requiring this, I don’t see it as healthy for the body, mind, or soul.

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ALina September 30, 2012 at 8:47 am

I recently had great success eating slow carb a la the 4 Hour Body plan. Unfortunately, I can’t tolerate the volume of salads I was eating. Interestingly, the weight stayed off even when I went back to eating carbs but eating intuitively. I didn’t continue to lose, but I didn’t gain. As you say though, my appetite has had a hard time going back to the rigid format of eating. With the fall weather, I’m incorporating more cooked veggies, soups & purees. Balance & moderation over the long haul, short stints of more restricted eating.

Thank you for your continued insight Andie, this is one of my favorite blogs.

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LiveBetter September 30, 2012 at 8:22 pm

After reading Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, I was done with wheat for good. I avoid all grains/starches/sugars and have never felt better (ok I “cheat” with occasional potatoes or rice but never wheat). I’ve lost 43 pounds in 6 months and other conditions have improved/disappeared (ie. chronic post nasal drip, acid reflux, sleep, heavy menstrual cycles). I told myself wheat wasn’t an option and I figured it out. My oldest son just celebrated his 10th birthday and I made chocolate mocha cupcakes with mocha icing and chocolate peanut butter ice cream (no sugar – no wheat in anything) – they were delicious. There is no deprivation in my world of wheat free living so I definitely feel it’s something sustainable for me. My FIL (recently diagnosed as pre diabetic) completely reversed his condition in 3 weeks with low carb (fasting glucose went from 7.3 to 5.3 and he lost 21 pounds). My mother lost 20 pounds giving up wheat/sugar and reducing her carbs. I see positive results all around me so … yep … I think it’s great :)

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Destinie October 1, 2012 at 9:06 am

Im currently on a vegetarian based South Beach plan. It can be difficult but certain carbs are trigger foods for me and having just a little usually ends with me have a lot! So at this stage in my life doing low carb is working.

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Darcy October 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

I like to think of ‘low carb’ as ‘low simple carb’.
I’ve done the Zone before and had great success. It was easy and while it was low(er) carb, it felt more balanced. Then I had some devastiating personal stuff happen and I couldn’t spend the time to ensure I was following it.
Now I’m modified paleo… I still eat a smidge of dairy about once a week, but no wheat, grains, legumes etc… I have to say, it changed my life. My skin is better, my digestion is better, I sleep better, I have better energy, I’m less grouchy and most of all, when I get hungry, I never get to the ‘feed me or I’ll kill you’ stage because my body isn’t in highs and lows of blood sugar due to carbs.
I HIGHLY recommend that people read Wheat Belly… you’ll be shocked…

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Rosie October 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm

When I first started putting on weight about 3 years ago, my doctor told me that I needed to watch my carb intake. I am a carb addict. Besides cheese, all of my favorite foods are carbs and I’m not a big meat eater. I tried to do South Beach twice because I thought that South Beach would be less restrictive than Atkins and I failed miserably both times. The first time, I made it a month. I made it through the two-week-absolutely-no-carb-purge and I was so proud of myself, but I was also miserable. I don’t cook very much because it’s only me and I live with roommates and I didn’t like taking up all that time in the kitchen and ending up with tons of leftovers that I would never eat. I was sick of salads and I was sick of chicken, which is pretty much the only meat I eat. I don’t like much red meat, I don’t like any meat on a bone, and I don’t like any of the seafood that I’m not allergic to so I felt like my choices were just torture. I caved on that first try when a vendor at work treated me and some colleagues to lunch at Olive Garden. All of my favorite things in one place. I had resolved to stick to my guns, but I just couldn’t resist the breadsticks. I ate 4. Before the meal arrived. And it felt amazing, so I quit South Beach right then and there. I tried it again last year…20lbs heavier than at my last go round…and didn’t even make it the two weeks. I don’t think I’m the type of person who can be that restrictive. Part of me really admires folks who can, but as soon as I tell myself that I just can’t have something, that’s all I want to eat. I have some serious impulse control issues, which is something I’ve learned about myself fairly recently. I’m taking the approach of moderation right now and that seems to be working for me. I know carbs are a problem for me, so I just try to limit them. If I have one meal that’s heavy in carbs, I stick with the veggies and proteins the rest of the day. Changing my thinking so that it’s more of a treat works for me.

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Kelsey October 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Hi! I absolutely love your blog, it’s kept me inspired to travel and try new things. Just wondering what you think of a vegetarian or vegan diet? A bit off topic I know hehe. Thank you :)

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Beth M. October 2, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Oh, how I’d love to be one of those “anything in moderation” people. Perhaps it might be achievable for me, with a HUGE amount of effort, but I shudder to think what the process would do to my weight and my self-esteem in the mean time. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve learned that, at least for now, I am NOT one of those people who can have “just a little”. Oh, I might get away with it once, or twice, but inevitably the “just a little” turns into “just a little more”, and a little of this, and a little of that, and then I’m in full-blown binge mode.

So, at least for now, there are foods I choose not to eat because they take me someplace I don’t want to go. Sure, I miss them. But I hate binging more than I hate living without cake, and I’m gradually finding substitutions that I find satisfying that don’t send me into spiraling cravings.

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Ashley October 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Hi, I just stumbled across your blog and wanted to comment :) I am on a low-carb diet currently. The first time I tried it in 2008, I lost 20lbs in 1 month, and didn’t even exercise. The second time I tried it in 2010 I was at my highest weight of 220lbs. I lost 36lbs, but eventually my bad habits came back in. I maintained my weight loss for months, but eventually I gained half of that back. I’m on this diet again and determined to get the weight off! It’s always hard in the first couple of weeks. You can’t not eat on this diet, so breaking up your day into smaller meals instead of 3 and snacking really helps keep your energy up. You shouldn’t be hungry or starving, or you won’t lose. Another thing too is when you first try the diet, you should adjust things- because some people crash on too few carbs, give up, and abandon it. If they had adjusted their carb intake, then they could have made it past the hard part. I like this diet and I’m eating more salads, veggies, protein. My blood pressure was slightly high-ish before this, now it’s normal. My iron was always low, now it’s normal. No more heart burn. I’m down 15lbs :) And I have a lot more to go (at least 50lbs) but I’m impressed at my results so far in the past not even 2 months.

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) October 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I love your candor. You present the facts (well formulated low-carb diets ARE absolutely safe, and how it works or doesn’t for you- (in your case- it doesn’t). There is a huge community of low carb living people- researchers, doctors, health practitioners, and just regular folks. There is a lot of misunderstanding about low carb living that demonize it, and it’s a real shame. One of the WORST errors that mainstream doctors make (and even your medical student commenter above) is confusing a life threatening condition that only diabetics can get (ketoacidosis) with a nutritionally healthy and natural state (nutritional ketosis)- it’s perpetuated errors like this that keep the myths about living low carb perpetuated. Thank you for being honest and forthright about it.

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) October 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Sorry, it seems I used ‘perpetuated’ twice in one sentence and I can’t punctuate! ;-)

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tK October 12, 2012 at 7:33 am

For me, the important thing was reducing my dependence on carbs. I always built my meals around the carbs, and protein and veg were an afterthought. Now I choose a great marinade for my chicken, or buy some bright, crunchy, fresh vegetables, and then throw in something carby for support.

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Effie November 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Thank you for this post! (Even if I am reading it a bit late). I fall into the category of people who, like you, could only stick to a low-carb diet for a little bit, then I’d just binge, craving weird foods I’d never considered appetizing before. My low-carb dieting was the catalyst to an eating disorder, which obviously were not my brightest days. However, I am thankful for the low-carb dieting because they helped me realize how many of my meals focused on carbs– not protein or vegetables. Now that I’m finding a more balanced way of eating, I’m carb-counscious but no longer so extreme. At the end of the day it’s how much you eat that contributes to weight loss and maintenance, and I have to agree that I’d prefer to be a carb-queen, as you say, just in moderation.

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Leigh October 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I’ve had great success with low carb. I’d start w/a strict diet of chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs, cheese, vegies (no potatoes or carrots), and no fruit. I had mild carb cravings/withdrawal on days 3-5 and never craved them again. Once I lost all the weight I wanted, I became more concerned with healthy food combinations (don’t mix carbs and proteins at the same meal, eat fruits 20 mins before a carb meal or one hour before a protein meal, etc). A year or two later, when I had gained 10-15 lbs, I’d start the process over again. I easily maintained my weight for 10 years doing this.

As I got older, into my upper 40′s, the carb cravings became more difficult to overcome so I’d blend a fruit drink of 1/2 fresh pineapple, 5 strawberries, 1/2 papaya, 1 cup cold water & several ice cubes. I drink as much as I wanted every time I felt hungry for 3-5 days then I’d transfer over to the strict low carb diet. When I did that I didn’t go thru the carb withdrawal stage at all.

I am now 49 and due to early stages of menopause, my hormones are all over the place. Suddenly I have zero ability to control my carb/sweet cravings. Needless to say I am very unhappy with my weight but feel completely powerless. How could I find it so easy and refreshing to eat that way for 10 years and now am being controlled by some invisible force to go to the freezer daily to get “just one more ice cream sandwich?” This is so frustrating!

Forget dieting. It’s impossible right now. On a daily basis I crave carbs or sweets so badly I shake and feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. What the heck? So I eat them. Never in my life have I experienced cravings on this magnitude. I’m doctoring for the hormonal issues but it’s not a quick fix. In the meantime my weight keeps going up, up, up. I want so badly to get back on that easy track.

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Thomas Hill January 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

As a Type 2 diabetic, I find that the low carb diet with 30 carbs per meal effectively controls my diabetic blood glucose. However, I have found that I become more depressed when I avoid carbohydrates and eat an excess of protein. Is there a metabolic link between high protein/low carbohydrate intake and depression?

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Mark May 14, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thank you for taking a balanced approach to low carb diets. When I started the Atkins diet the doomsayers all told me how it wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t never be able to eat carbs again, I’d lose the weight and put it back on, I’d never eat fruit again, I’d never eat cake again, I’d die because of high cholesterol, and my eyes would fall out (well, maybe not that last one).

I usually heard these comments when they had a cupcake in each fist and a large soda to wash it all down. I stuck with Atkins and lost over 60 lbs. Since then, I have monitored my carb intake and kept off that 60 lbs for over 5 years.

I know Atkins isn’t for everyone but it works for me. People who think they can never eat fruit again or that they will never be able to eat a piece of cake are mistaken and clearly have not read the part about maintaining weight loss.

Once you reach your goal weight you introduce carbs, fruit and even sweets back into your diet. You figure out how much you can have and still maintain your weight.

Atkins takes a hard line approach during the induction phase of the diet (no fruit or carbs). If you don’t follow the induction to the letter, you still lose weight (at least I did), you just don’t lose it as fast as if you followed the induction phase as written in the book.

It doesn’t matter what type of diet you try, just figure out the one that works for you! Every time I button my size 34 jeans instead of my size 46, I remember that it was worth not eating that piece of sheet cake at my nephews birthday party and it was certainly worth giving up pasta for a while.

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Oskar's mom May 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Low carb diets have been the only diets on which I have been able to loose weight over the years. They are also the hardest diets for me to initiate, mainly because it involves giving up the foods that I love most. After the first 3-4 days in which I constantly battle cravings and feel miserable, things turn around. I feel great, am not hungry, have more energy than ever before, am happier, AND lose weight. It’s just very difficult for me to get past those first few days. In spite of great success, I still battle cravings for sweets and if I give in, even once, it throws me way off and I have to start all over. I don’t feel that others support me in my low carb efforts….there are still lots of myths about low carb eating.

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Cathy D April 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm

I know this comment is late considering the dates of all the others, but I JUST WANT TO SHAKE ALL OF YOU!! You’re going about it ALL wrong! Low carb is the same as a diabetes diet and Atkins and paleo/primal and eating for ketosis. They’re all the same. The problem is that you are looking at it as a DIET, which typically is a way of eating {for a period of time} in order to lose weight, and not as a LIFESTYLE. You have to make it your lifestyle, forever! You have to learn what the reason is behind this way of living/eating. HEALTH!! Bad carbs are those from grains, the worst of which is modern wheat, and from processed sugar. Modern wheat, whole wheat, whole grain, whatever you want to call it, is GMO! It is not the same as what people ate 100 years ago. It is poison now. Sugars and high fructose corn syrup (agave syrup is the same thing, different plant) cause your blood to spike and fill you with an over-supply of insulin. That extra insulin doesn’t get used up so your body stores it up for when it thinks you need it again. That’s what makes you fat. Also, healthy fats DO NOT make you fat! They do not give you high cholesterol. Those are the myths from the 60s that have been pounded into us. Look on YouTube for a video of George McGovern deciding to tell the public that very thing! That’s when it all started…because he had a monetary interest in it! Really. Look it up! People…Educate yourselves! When you know the science, it will be much easier for you. Seriously. Ugh, I just can’t believe the bad information out there that gets passed on by shear ignorance. People..take your health into your own hands and research this! Do yourself a favor — don’t just live…THRIVE!!!

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