Eric Westman, MD, who directs the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic in Durham, North Carolina, and who cowrote The New Atkins for a New You, has been studying low-carb diets for 12 years. His five guidelines:
1. DON'T TRY TO LIMIT FAT. "Eating high-fat foods keeps you from feeling deprived." says Dr. Westman. Bacon, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, butter, and oil are all healthy parts of a low-carb diet.
2. SAY GOODBYE TO PASTA, BREAD, AND RICE. To lose weight, most people have to stay under 20 grams of "net" carbs per day (net carbs refers to the number of grams of carbs minus grams of fiber, because fiber doesn't send blood sugar spiking). That rules out bread (two slices contain about 24 grams of net carbs), rice (over 40 grams in a cup), and pasta (about 40 grams per cup). Once you hit your goal, you can slowly add in more carbs that don't have a big impact on blood sugar.
3. BE PICKY ABOUT VEGETABLES. Starchy (carb-heavy) vegetables--most of the ones that grow underground, as well as corn--are off-limits. But you can have up to four cups daily of leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and collard greens. Limit broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, okra, and Brussels sprouts to two cups per day.
4. SAY NO TO HIDDEN SUGARS. Fruit, that legendarily healthful food, is packed with sugar, aka carbohydrates. So are fruit juices. Other concentrated sources include soda, cakes, and candy. You may be able to keep diet sodas, light beer, dry wine, and sugar-free sweets on the menu and still lose weight.
5. EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT. When it comes to protein and fat, "you don't have to use portion control," says Dr. Westman. "Your hunger will go down automatically when you start eating this way--all you have to do is stop eating when you're full."
I would add for those of you who don't buy the book my experience with low-carb eating.
Drinking water is important. This protects your kidneys and helps to flush out toxins and the "ash" left behind when fat is burned. Your body will probably be in ketosis - read up on this. Bad breath from the ketosis. I was tired. Your experience may be different from mine but educate yourself and talk to your doctor if you have any health issues.
I have found a low-glycemic bread. It is called Ezekiel bread. It is in the freezer section. It is a sprouted grains bread with no flour. There are some crackers called Wasa that you might try. Pumpernickel is also a low-glycemic bread.
Since following this diet to the letter makes me so tired, I basically eliminate all the sugar I can from my diet. I really make an effort to limit carbohydrates. Read labels, if it ends in -ose - it's a sugar - dextrose, lactose (dairy products), sucralose, etc. Labels have the carbohydrates listed.
A note about blood sugar - diabetics are often heavy because high blood sugar is the body's signal to store fat. We don't want anything to do with this disease and it is at epidemic proportions. Think of it like this - if you would spill some coke and leave it to dry, that area would be sticky because of the sugar. Blood with too much sugar is sticky - more like sludge - the blood vessels in the eyes are so, so tiny that circulation of thick, sticky blood is difficult. The blood can even have little globs in it. That is also why circulation in the lower extremities is poor - the heart has trouble pumping that back up from so far away in the feet and lower legs.
The "glycemic index" is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food being assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption and digestion process, which provides a more gradual, healthier infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. On the other hand, a high rating means that blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. These rapid fluctuations of blood-sugar levels are not healthy because of the stress they place on the body.
One of sugar's major drawbacks is that it raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. This is not something you want to take place if you want to avoid disease.
An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body's blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you're making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease. Complex carbohydrates tend to be absorbed more slowly, lessening the impact on blood-sugar levels.