Saturday, December 12, 2009

Atkins Diet and Carbohydrate Balance

I am not going to take an official stance on low carb diets, it is of little importance if I support them or not. Subjectively, I think that some diets were brainstormed by some marketing guru whose intention was to target those that are looking for that next "quick fix" and are just too lazy to do anything about their diets, contrary to popular belief "quick fix diets" do not exist.

In order to make any sound dieting program work you must observe the "LEAN" philosophy, regardless if it is the Atkins Diet or one of the many fad diets that come and go in and out of the market. 

The Lean Philosophy is:

Lifestyle-why alter your diet if you are not willing to alter your life?
Exercise-it takes little effort to exercise; I am not talking about running the Dallas Marathon, but getting up off your butt, being mobile and burning kcalories.
 Attitude-having a positive attitude towards your diet, not thinking of what you are missing but excited about what you are gaining
 Nutrition-understanding the how's and why's of avoiding this and taking that.

Before I go any further it is important to understand that I am not a dietician, a nutritionist or a member of any medical profession, I just know a good amount about food and nutrition and want the world to be a happier place. Prior to making any major alterations to your diet it is very important you seek the advice of a medical professional.

If you are dieting, it is important to understand that a diet is just that-A diet. It takes time and dedication to make any sound dieting program successful, sometimes it is not what you eat it is how smart you eat.

OK, so let's break down the Atkins diet. 

Simply put Atkins restricts carbohydrates & increases protein. You are decreasing the amount of calories you are consuming by restricting carbs. A carb is an important source of energy to your body, and of course, there are beneficial carbs and other carbs that are not so beneficial (like sugar for example). So the main question here and the reason for this post is "How do I do the Atkins Diet?"
  • First off, some simple math and logic. Carbs and Protein both have 4 calories/gm, Fat contains 9 calories/gm.
  • Eat low fat proteins-Choose lean cuts of meat, cut off excess fat, take the skin off of your chicken breast etc.
  • During digestion, carbohydrates, fats and proteins are disassembled before they are absorbed; carbohydrate break down begins in your mouth whereas protein and fat digestion doesn't start breaking down until they have reached your stomach. So it is important to eat fibrous foods to help process fats and proteins that you do consume- whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes etc.
  • The consumption of the aforementioned dietary fibers benefit health by supplying vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals along with the abundant dietary fiber with the addition of little or no fat
  • Eat a serving of a fatty fish at least once a week (salmon for example)
  • Do not (I repeat DO NOT) eliminate carbs from your diet, it is ok to restrict them but make sure with this restriction that you are also eliminating as much fat from your diet as possible. The Atkins philosophy works short term based on calorie restriction, not because of carb restriction. So choose healthy carbs that are going to work together with your diet and body.
Carbs to concentrate on-
  • Grains (pasta, rice, cooked cereals, whole wheat and whole grain bread)
  • Vegetables (cooked dry beans, corn, peas, carrots, okra, onions, tomatoes, cooked greens, and salad)
  • Fruits (Juice, bananas, plaintains, apples, oranges, most canned and fresh fruits apply in this category)
  • Milk, Cheese, Yogurt (Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, other foods in this group contain little to no carbohydrate but do contain a good amount of fat)
Well, this should give you a good start if this is a diet that you want to pursue. 

Remember that food and health are indisputably related so eat well and live happy.

If this is a topic of interest to you please go read "Cheffy Speaks Out On Carbs, Fat and Fad Diets"


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