Everyone either knows someone or has been someone who’s been on a low-carb diet at some point. It sounds promising – as long as you’re having little to no carbs, you can have all the meat, cheese, and eggs that you want, without any worry about how much. Yay quantity! But really, is it that great? I was thinking about this once and I honestly think that all the best foods are carbs – pasta, cereal, bread, pancakes (yum!), muffins… I’m just speaking for myself, but I LOVE carbs. I don’t feel satisfied without them. And I don’t think that you’re really learning how to live like a normal person by cutting them out completely. Being social and going out to eat is a part of life and how can you really sustain this diet when you’re out with your friends without being the weirdo that orders the pasta Primavera, but asks the waiter to only bring the Primavera part, not the pasta. It’s just another band-aid that you’re sticking on your weight problem.
I once had a friend who went on this diet and he lost over 20lb. in what seemed like 3 weeks. He’d come over to my house and instead of his regular chips and salsa buffet he’d just ask for some cheese, which he’d eat and eat and eat and eat. He basically just replaced all the carbs he was eating with protein and had himself an all-you-can-eat cheese fest. He dropped the weight quickly, but there was only so long that he could go on like this without seriously craving some bread, and when one day he actually gave in to his craving he couldn’t stop and all the weight came back and then some.
And you want to know something? It’s not just carbs that cause you to put on weight, it’s protein too. Any time you have too much of something your body will store it as fat! Ouch!
Walking down the street, I can point out to you people who are yo-yo dieters, without knowing anything about them. There is this puffy look that they have and a way that the fat distributes on their body that all point to a history of riding the roller coaster scale. People crash diet, because it’s an easy fix to a troubling problem and it’s quick. The problem is that it’s short-lived and you never really learn how to control your weight AND have the foods that you love. Which is where the Glycemic Index comes in…
Ok, let’s start from the beginning (and I promise I will do my best to be brief and make it as simple as possible). The Glycemic Index (GI) is a system for classifying carbohydrate-containing foods, according to how fast they raise blood sugar levels (also known as glucose). When we eat, our bodies convert digestible carbs into blood sugar, our main source of energy. Our blood sugar level can affect how hungry and how energetic we feel, both important factors when we are watching how we eat and exercise. It also determines whether we burn fat or store it.
Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Our pancreas secretes insulin, which helps transport blood sugar to our cells where it’s used for energy. When we eat simple carbs, such as white bread or candy that are quickly processed into blood sugar, our pancreas goes into overdrive to produce enough insulin for all this blood sugar to be used for energy. This insulin surge tells our bodies that we have enough energy from the blood sugar, so it should stop burning fat and start storing it.
The real problem now is that this insulin surge causes too much blood sugar to be transported out of our blood and this results in our blood sugar dropping below normal. This leaves us feeling tired and hungry and wanting to eat more. The worst part is that it makes us want to eat something else with a high sugar content. And when we do, we start the cycle all over again.
To be more simple: 1. Carbs = Blood Sugar (Glucose)—> increases insulin.
2. Simple Carbs = Blood Sugar spike —> insulin spike
3. Too much insulin —> causes us to store fat
So, what you want to do is eat the foods that will keep your blood sugar levels in control. By choosing foods that have a low to moderate GI rating you can be sure that you won’t have the crash and burn later. A low GI rating is 54 or less, moderate is 55-69, and high is 70 +. For example, oatbran bread has a rating of 46 (low), while white bread has a rating of 70 (high). You can still have bread, you should just have the right kind. There are no foods that are off limits, but going back to my 80/20 rule that I mentioned yesterday, you want to eat the foods that have a moderate to low GI value 80% of the time, and high GI foods the other 20%. The fantastic part of following this type of plan is that it’s not about counting calories or grams of carbs, it’s just about choosing the foods that will leave you feeling satisfied and energetic, which means that you can have your pasta, cereal, bread, muffins, etc., and even cake sometimes too. And, you won’t be falling into a food coma any time soon.
If you want to learn more about this, I’m running a 12 week weight loss (or weight management for those of you who just want to learn how to eat more healthfully) group that begins the last week of March. I will be giving a FREE introduction in the next 2 weeks, so that if you’re unsure and just want to learn more, you can have a chance to see what this is all about. You will learn how to make this an effortless lifestyle and not just a temporary solution. Even better, you’ll lose body fat, not muscle, so you will slim down without having that skinny-fat look. Stop the yo-yo dieting and finally learn a way to enjoy food again and keep the weight off for good. Food isn’t only something we need to survive, but it should bring pleasure to us as well.