Carbs Essay

This essay has a total of 3593 words and 12 pages.


The traditional dietary guidelines most of us were taught in school are now being
challenged as a result of a new diet. Remember when your teacher told you that all you
needed to do to eat healthy you just needed to consume a lot of pastas and breads and eat
meats and fats sparingly. Times have changed. In todayís fast paced world of dot coms and
international space stations, everyone is looking for something new. Itís in with the new
and out with the old. It seems this is true with our eating habits as well. I guess we
could credit some of this change to the rise of obesity in America. Whatever the reason,
it seems that this new high protein diet is here to stay. In fact, according to a new
breed of nutritionist, the wait is over. The answer this new protein diet offers for an
age-old problem of obesity includes a 180-degree turn around in the currently accepted
dietary guidelines. The advocates of the ďhigh protein dietĒ recommend that a person
almost completely eliminate your carbohydrate intake and double your protein intake. This
is a far cry from what nutritionists have recommended in the past. In fact, high protein
diet plans are insisting that instead of having that plain baked potato and brown rice you
planned for dinner, that you serve up a nice, juicy, double helping of barbecue ribs, and
ignore the fat. Never mind the fat? What do they mean ignore the fat? Donít they know
about fat? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, not according to advocates of the
protein diet. They insist that by eliminating high carbohydrate foods and replacing them
with high protein foods, regardless of the amount of fat they contain, your body can more
efficiently burn fat and therefore help you to lose weight. Yes, the new protein diet
actually insists that you can eat fat and lose weight. However, the question still
remains, ďIs this diet healthy for Americans?Ē This is exactly what I hope to answer for
you in the following pages. What is A Protein Diet? To help you understand what
nutritionists are calling a high protein diet I will review the popular literature that
has been published on the topic. You have heard the popular saying, ďHistory repeats
itself.Ē It appears that it applies to diets as well, because in actuality, high protein
diets have appeared for over 40 years. In the 1960s the Atkinsí Diet. In the 1970s, it was
reincarnated as the Stillman Diet. Then, in the 1980s it surfaced again as the popular
Scarsdale Diet. In each of these decades the high protein diet craze eventually died down
because of the lack of scientific support and the publics trust in the guidelines put
forth by our government. Despite high proteinís questionable past and the repeated
warnings by every major health institute in America, a new crop of high protein diet
books, such as The Zone and Dr Atkinís New Diet Revolution has caught the publicís
attention again (4). To try to comprehend what the stir is all about we will examine one
of the top selling books on the market today about protein diets, The Atkinís Diet. The
main dietary principle driving the Atkins Diet is ketosis (5). Ketosis is a condition in
which unusual products of fat are broke down in the blood. More simply stated, it means
excess, stored body fat is burned, which results in weight loss. To put the body into a
state of ketosis you must restrict the amount of carbohydrates consumed in a day to less
than 100 grams. According to Dr. Atkins, regular insulin production converts excess
carbohydrates into body fat. However, in the absence of carbohydrates the body cannot use
itsí fat in the normal way. Therefore, energy the body requires can be burned through
benign dietary ketosis, or the burning of stored fat, rather than from carbohydrates
consumed (5). What does all of this mean to you and me? To explain it in laymanís terms,
it simply means that when fewer carbohydrates are consumed, the body naturally produces
less insulin. As a result, the body, which now lacks itsí carbohydrate energy source,
finds alternative methods such as ketosis, the burning of stored fat, for necessary
energy. Although it only takes a minimum of 100 grams to put your body into a state of
ketosis, Dr. Atkins says it can vary anywhere between 15 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per
day, depending on how your body responds to carbohydrate intake. To give you a comparison
on how severely your carbohydrate intake is limited by Dr. Atkins Diet, the American Heart
Association suggests 300 grams of carbohydrates per day based on a 2000 calorie per day
diet (5). So if you canít eat carbohydrates, what can you eat? On Dr. Atkinís plan, he
suggests eating unrestricted amounts of high protein, which include meat, fish, shellfish,
poultry, eggs, and cheese (7). On the other hand, food items like pasta, bread, and foods
with large amounts of refined sugar are eliminated. Still not sure what a high protein
diet consists of? To give you a better idea, the following is a sample of what your meals
would consist of on a daily basis. For breakfast you may include bacon and eggs, no toast,
or juice because they contain too many carbohydrates. Then, for lunch a small salad and a
double cheeseburger. A bun would put you over the allowed 60 grams of carbohydrates in a
day. Finally, for dinner, you would have a salad with blue cheese dressing, and steak or
fried chicken if you prefer. Be sure not to include any bread or after dinner snacks, as
they too would break the carbohydrate limit (7). When you consume these types of meals you
consume approximately 40% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% of your calories from
protein, and 30% from fat (8). The increase in the intake of protein and the severe
restriction of carbohydrates is the major difference between the high protein diet and the
high carbohydrate, low fat diet that is currently accepted by all the major health
organizations. Current Dietary Guidelines As you can see, the dietary recommendations of
protein diets are quite different than what you have been told your entire life. To be
sure that you do understand the difference, letís look at what the current dietary
standards are in the United States. In May 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
provided a new way of categorizing foods called the Food Pyramid (12). The Food Pyramid
organizes foods into groups based on the Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines for
Americans were developed to reflect what was currently known about the effects diet has on
a personís health. There are seven Dietary Guidelines for Americans: a) eat a variety of
foods; b) maintain a healthful weight; c) choose a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat,
and cholesterol; d) choose a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grain products;
e) use sugars only in moderation; f) use salt and other forms of sodium only in
moderation; and g) for adults who drink alcohol, do so only in moderation (12). These
guidelines were developed to serve as a guide to help Americans live a healthy and
prosperous life when the guidelines were followed closely. The Food Pyramid, which acts as
a daily meal planner, even gives you examples of what you should and shouldnít eat, as
well as how many servings you should consume. According to the Food Pyramid, foods such as
bread, cereal, rice, and pasta should make up the largest part of your diet: 6 to 11
servings a daily. As you recall, these are the foods that you are not allowed to have on
the protein diet. However, this is only part of the conflict between the two diets. As you
move up the pyramid you need fewer servings of each of the food groups that follow. For
example, you need 3 to 5 servings daily from the vegetable group, and 2 to 4 servings
daily from the fruit group. But, according to the protein diet fruits contain too many
carbohydrates and should be avoided. Finally, the Food Pyramid recommends that you only
consume 2 to 3 servings daily from both the milk and cheese group and the meat group.
Again, this is exactly opposite of what nutritionists who support the protein diet insists
on. The protein diet suggests that you consume 40% protein rather than the suggested
10-15%. Furthermore this diet does not consider fat to be the enemy, therefore it is not
restricted. However, at the top of the Food Pyramid is where you will find fats, which is
suggested to consume sparingly. As you can see this again is different. The protein dietís
battle plans are for carbohydrates only. All of the foods suggested by the Food Pyramid
when consumed make up your daily caloric intake. In fact, three of these nutrients provide
all of your calories - - carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Balancing calories consumed
from these three nutrients is one of the keys to eating healthy. One way to make sure you
have a balanced diet is to consume the proper percentage of calories from each of these
nutrients. All major professional health organizations, including the American Heart
Association, the National Cholesterol Education Program, and the American Cancer Society,
endorse a diet that is composed of 10%-15% protein, 55%-60% carbohydrates, and 25%-30% fat
calories (4). However, if a you eat the types of meals suggested by the protein diet you
consume approximately 40% of your calories from Carbohydrates, 30% of your calories from
protein, and 30% from fat (8). As you can see, there is a big difference between the two
recommended diets. Why are the three nutrients proportioned so that carbohydrates make up
the most of your daily calories, rather than fat, and protein? The answer can be explained
through understanding the way the body uses the calories that you consume throughout the
day. Physiology of Weight Loss Understanding weight loss and weight gain is not that
difficult. In fact, your body works much like an automobile . Let me clarify what I mean.
When you put gas in a car you fill up the gas tank so that your engine will run. Likewise,
you do the same for your body each time you eat a meal. By eating, you fill your body up
with calories so that you can continue to complete the necessary basic functions for life.
As with a car, the body will eventually run out of gas or energy. When this occurs you
will become hungry, and you will meet this need by filling your body up again by consuming
more calories. However, there is one major difference between the filling process of a car
and that of the body. In a car you can only fill the tank with so much gas, because there
is a certain amount of fuel the gas tank will hold. The body, on the other hand, has an
unlimited amount of space; therefore, it is capable of storing excess amounts of fuel as
fat. For example, when you sit down to eat your body begins to take in calories or energy
that it needs to function. When you exercise you burn or use up those calories. Therefore,
we can conclude that as long as you burn as many calories as you take in you will not
induce weight gain. However, when you eat more calories than you burn, the addition of
those added calories will lead to weight gain in the body. As a matter of fact, if you
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