Low carb, high carb, no carb……what’s a carb?

This post comes from a recent discussion I had with a friend who was questioning my vegan ways of eating and who is also on the no carb, high protein diet…..basically the opposite of what I am doing. It’s funny how there are so many views and opinions on what is “healthy”. It’s no wonder that America is the fattest country and is so confused on what they should and should not be eating. The diet world is a $40 billion dollar industry and is constantly coming up with new ways of eating to lose weight……and we buy into all of them. Looking for that quick fix we want that latest thing that will make us slim overnight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. There is no magic diet or pill that will make you lose weight within a couple of days. It took time to put the weight on (although it may not seem like it) and it will take time to get it off. Believe me, I have bought into the fad diets and tried most of them hoping to slim down quickly for an event, vacation, summer, or whatever. What I have learned is that the weight that comes off fast, which is mostly water weight, comes back fast. To sustain weightloss you have to do it gradually and in a healthy way. Every body is different, so different ways of eating will work for different people. This is something I may think about doing a series on. Exploring the different diets out there and letting you all know what’s good and what isn’t. Stay tuned…..

This post, however, is about carbs. When I say carbs, I am referring to carbohydrates. Carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years, but it’s important to know the good carbs from the bad. They are not all bad. Two types of carbohydrates exist, simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are your refined, processed flours and sugars. You know them in the form of white, or non whole grain, bread, cookies, crackers, white pasta, cakes and sweets in general. These carbohydrates are broken down quickly in the body and cause a blood sugar spike giving you the sugar high and then the sugar low. (Read my blog Life on Sugar for more info) Complex carbohydrates on the other hand are your whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, etc that your body processes slowly causing a gradual rise in blood sugar with no crash. They also keep you fuller longer. These are the good guys, the ones you want to be eating. I eat complex carbohydrates on a regular basis to give my body the fuel and energy it needs to work all day and power through my workouts. Depending on your activity level, you may need more or less complex carbohydrates in your diet. The challenge my friend and I have created is not to see who can lose the most weight, but which way of eating is the most maintainable and provides the most sustenance for daily energy. We both are working out daily and are curious if one diet over the other will make you stronger week by week. So here is the breakdown of what each of us are eating:

Me: Vegan
Complex carbs for fiber, energy, and protein
Lots of vegetables
Fruits
Beans, nuts, legumes, tofu for protein

My friend: High protein, no carb
Lots of meat, eggs, cheese, bacon, etc for protein
Vegetables
No fruits
No carbs

I will keep you all posted on how it goes week to week. Also stay tuned for the “fad diet” series.

Question: Have any of you tried a crazy diet? Did you lose weight, feel healthy, have energy?

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7 thoughts on “Low carb, high carb, no carb……what’s a carb?

  1. I have tried the Atkins diet before and as of right now I am not pro-Atkins or anything comparable. I am aware of my body and how it responds to things, and I was leary the first few days when I had headaches, irritability and fatigue. I was told my body was adjusting to not getting those evil carbs and with time I would feel better. I must say I did not feel better I felt nutritionally deprived. I lost weight. Alot of it. I went from a size 18 to a size 7 within three months and I was working out 5-6 days a week. I felt tired and the headaches were frequent during this time.

    I’ve also tried weight loss supplements with ephedrine and while it brought about results I was pleased with, it is so very not good for my body. I haven’t touched them in 7 years both ephedrine or fad diets lol.

  2. Corrections:

    The friend is eating 25-45 grams of carbs per days for a couple of weeks to create a state called ketosis. In this state, the body will burn his (my) excess body fat that has accumulated in recent months due to persistent high insulin levels from comfort feeding on carbs — especially, breads and sugars.

    Once the fat is burned (usually in a few weeks) it’s ok to add back enough carbs to end the ketosis. Ketosis, for the record, is a completely healthy and natural part of the human cycles of feast and famine. Not a fad. It’s as old as mankind. Only in modern times is there such a constant feast that humans can indulge in diets never before available to man, like a year round carb frenzy!

    The friend’s menu includes things like:

    2-3 eggs cooked in olive oil daily
    2-4 strips of bacon daily (will cut back to 2/day when carb cravings are gone)
    Avocados in salads or by themselves with black pepper (yum!)
    3-5 ounces of chicken daily
    Fresh fish, especially salmon
    Red meat several times per week (since when is meat unhealthy for carnivores!)
    Leafy greens (especially spinach) daily
    Fresh onions, peppers, tomatoes and garlic with most meals
    Raw nuts, especially almonds
    Black coffee, water, tee

    Cheats: Mic Ultra’s with my cigars
    Diet soda, which likely contributes to high insulin, has been limited to 1-2 per week.

    To sum up, the friend is eating “garden vegetables, especially greens, meats/fish/poultry, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no almost sugar.”

    It’s funny how these days some might consider this diet to be a fad, when in effect this is what humans have eater for 10’s of thousands of years. Only recently has man adopted a “low fat” diet as “healthy” — and only recently have heart disease, diabetes and obesity surfaced.

    The Challenge:

    As I understood it, the challenge is to see which form of eating (vegan vs above) can sustain muscular development, stamina, and strength (P90X and Crossfit).

    My understanding of the science is that cellular growth and repair is only possible with proteins. While carbs can create the “energy” to sustain a workout, they cannot support the growth and repair of those muscles post-workout. Over time, low protein diets lead to decreased muscle mass and bone density.

    Hence, the challenge is to hit your P90X hard, while I hit my Crossfit hard (very similar workouts), and see if either diet leads to a quicker plateau or a fall off over time — or if both diets can sustain continuous muscular development and stamina. (Muscular stamina not to be confused with endurance running — distance running is a very different beast!)

    Let’s define muscular development/strength as the ability to move a greater load than you previously did, measured as a percentage of your body weight (adjusted for male/female?).

    Stamina (the ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy) we can measure as increased work capacity over broad time domains (example, increasing the number of box jumps or air squats you can perform in a given amount of time).

    Is it on? ? ? Like Donkey Kong? ? ?

      • Sweet ! ! ! ! ! !

        Now remember, this is a search for truth

        …not a competition, strictly speaking 😉

        Now go do a benchmark P90X workout that you can use to track your progress (we’ll probably need a few benchmarks to get good results). I just did max 27 inch box jumps in 7 minutes. Will do this weekly to measure increased work capacity over time.

      • I was going to use push ups as my benchmark. I am, and never have been, good at push ups so I thought it would be a good exercise to determine if I am building strength. What are your thoughts? Should we both do box jumps or air squats to track progress?

  3. I have avoided diets in any form like the plague. Last year I lost around 30 lbs simply by keeping track of my calories and exercising. Since then I’ve been able to keep the weight off because I found I don’t want to eat as much or as badly as before. I avoid using the word “diet” except to talk about what I eat. When did diet start to have to very different meanings?

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