Health Habits: Take Another Look At Your Carbs
A Low-Carb Nutritional Approach Is Not Just A "Fad Diet"
Several years ago, Dr. Robert C. Atkins researched and documented a cohesive nutritional approach based on the science of minimizing carbohydrates, especially the "bad carbs" he saw making his patients (and America) too fat. Following his death, and after controversial lawsuits against his company, his approach was disparaged as a "fad diet" that was ineffective (at best) and possibly dangerous (at worst).
The debate rages on. However, you should know Dr. Atkins' widow disputed that his diet caused his demise; and some well-publicized plaintiffs who cried foul about the approach were shown to be chowing-down on such sugary treats as cheesecake, which are strictly prohibited on the Atkins approach.
There were other tag-along approaches, most notably the "South Beach Diet," which also gained both popularity and notoreity. However, no one has ever disproved Atkins' original research. If you haven't tried a serious low-carb approach, it might be worth another look.
The appeal of the approach is that you get to have protein, and plenty of it. Steak, chicken, fish (highly recommended), eggs, cheese... all are OK in lesser or greater portions at various stages of the sequentially-stepped Atkins program. But even if you don't follow the Atkins steps, the overall approach still works.
Fat is also OK... and it turns out there are good fats and bad fats (some REALLY bad fats). Don't eat any trans fats, ever. But consuming good fats, such as oils, brings a variety of health benefits from lower blood content of "bad" LDL cholesterol ("low-density lipoproteins"), high content of "good" HDL cholesterol, and better cleansing of the digestive system in general. It turns out some fats are GOOD for your heart!
There are also good carbs and bad carbs. Dr. Atkins was a big proponent of good carbohydrates, especially those found in vegetables. Bad carbs - especially processed sugar - are to be avoided altogether. Even fruit should be closely controlled; berries provide excellent anti-oxidants, but most other fruit is not worth the trade-off between sugar content and available nutrients.
Atkins also believed in nutritional supplements. He knew you couldn't get what your body needs from a typical Western diet, and suggested good, high-quality vitamin and mineral supplements.
I've met many people, especially clients who were trying to drive a business, who said they'd "tried Atkins" but found it just didn't work. But in virtually every case, when I investigated further, I found that these clients had generally not really given a low-carb nutritional approach a fair shake. Some cheated, "doing Atkins" only during the week and then going back to eating convenience-food garbage on the weekends. Our cheesecake-eating friend was probably in that category! Some found they couldn't maintain their energy level - because they didn't eat ANY carbs, and therefore robbed their bodies of the nutrients found in veggies. Some failed to take any supplements, and therefore weakened their bodies. And some overdid it on the fat intake, or messed things up by consuming "bad" fats.
I latched onto the low-carb approach when I was traveling often and extensively. I found that I could get meat and vegetables everywhere my work sent me. I also tried being a vegetarian for six months (a real trial), but it didn't work for me... sure, you can get non-meat food on the road, but I found it very hard to keep the processed foods down when I was trying the vegetarian approach. The key, though, was not just diving into a "diet" as a fad because I'd heard of someone else trying it... I always took it seriously, reading the books and exercising discipline. And that's certainly an approach I'd recommend.
Whether you're running a business, like most of my clients, or involved in the pursuit of other achievements, you need your energy. If you're carrying around a lot of extra fat, you're not as nimble as you ought to be. Think about how cutting the carbs can boost your energy in a healthy, disciplined way.