Low-carb Diets: Fad, Fallacy, or Fact?
The most common and popular diet fad over the past two years has undoubtedly been the low-carb diet. It has many followers, both in the U.K. and the U.S.A., and its various celebrity endorsements, particularly of the most renowned version, The Atkins Diet, have undoubtedly played a large part in its popularity. Is it merely another fad diet designed to hook the diet junkies amongst us and deliver more opportunities for the food manufacturers to create another new product in response to the "demand"? Or could it be that it is actually a healthy and effective way of losing and controlling weight?
The whole concept of a "diet" is, of course a false one, perpetuated in order to keep the "diet industry" in profit and playing on our insecurities and gullibility. The word diet simply means the food that is customarily eaten on a daily basis. People living in less developed countries and living on a subsistence diet would be totally baffled by the notion that a "diet" is a means of eating less in order to lose weight! However, in the greedy and overfed western world, we either fail to grasp that we eat too much for our needs, or we lack the self control to eat less. Furthermore, we are inundated with
opportunities to eat delicious tempting treats at comparatively low cost, and these items are often those with the highest calorie content.
Many studies have shown that reducing our carbohydrate intake is not only an effective way to control weight but also has a part to play in reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the incidence of which has shown a worrying increase in recent years. It would be a fairly simple step merely to reduce the amount of carbs (bread, rice, potatoes, for example) that we eat on a daily basis. Over time, we would undoubtedly lose weight.
From the point of view of our long-term health however, we need to take a more scientific approach and look at carbohydrates in terms of "good" and "bad" ones. The most commonly consumed carbohydrates in the western world, and particularly the U.K. and U.S.A. are the simple or refined carbohydrates. These include sugar, white flour, potatoes, white rice and products manufactured from these ingredients. They are generally low in fibre and nutrients.
On the other hand, the range of complex carbohydrates, which includes whole grains, many fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses are generally high in fibre and nutrients and can make a valuable contribution to our health and well being. It would be misguided to eliminate these "good" carbohydrates from our diet in the interests of short-term weight loss. Surely it is better to adapt our way of eating on a permanent basis, to one which includes a range of complex carbohydrates, among other elements, and if necessary to just eat less?
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