Americans are willing to try diets as long as is promises miracle results without trying too hard and has a catchy title. The Atkins diet has made us aware of 'carbs.' Carbs refer to carbohydrates or the sugars, starches, and celluloses in our diets. Good carbs consist of whole grains and fruits and vegetables while the 'bad' carbs are those from processed and sugary foods such as white breads and pastas, sugar, and sweets.
Carbs are the body's preferred form of fuel. All carbs contain 4 calories per gram. Good carbs also contain fiber-fiber that can help lower cholesterol and other fibers that slow down the absorption of food. The Atkins diet people use the term 'net carbs.' That is a meaningless marketing term.
Why do people on low carb diets lose weight? Essentially, they consume roughly 20 grams of carbs a day. This causes the body to go into something called ketosis. The state of ketosis takes your appetite away and because you do not feel hungry, you consume fewer calories and presto, you lose weight. People on the low carb diets consume approximately the same number of calories as people on a low calorie diet. That is the reason you lose weight. Calories are always the key. Ketosis works in the short term but there are no long term studies about the safety and effectiveness of these diets.
Another term we hear tossed about is 'glycemic index.' Essentially, foods with a low glycemic index are foods that mostly carbs with lots of fiber that slows down their absorption and conversion into blood sugar. It helps you avoid peaks and valleys and keeps away hunger and overeating.
The real key to losing weight and keeping it off is eating breakfast, exercising, watching portion control, and generally keeping to a diet of about 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men. Forget the carbs and the Atkins and the South Beach and every other trendy diet. Do what the French do...eat a variety of foods and enjoy them.
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