Misconceptions of Low Carb Dieting
Another deep dive into American eating beliefs & why the rest of the world gives us the side eye
Some of our great traditions: baseball; apple pie; large, loud, inefficient V8 motors; misguided military aggression; the New Year's Diet. Ever since mechanized might removed the necessity for universal sweat & toil, Americans have battled the bulge. Not so long ago, dieting was entirely perceived to entail some sort of self-suspension of everything that tasted good, which is not entirely invalid. Sugar-free, fat-free. Problem is, most 'Murricans prefer the taste of sugar and fat. Cut those things out and you'll lose weight. Simple concept. But it's so haaarrrrrrdd!
About 20 years ago or so, some whack-a-mole called Dr. Atkins published a book touting the glories of a low-carb diet. Several of his test patients were able to overcome hypertension, Type II diabetes and heart disease as a result of their extreme weight loss. A few people (including my wife and I, right before our wedding) read it cover-to-cover and by applying every last one of his requirements, were able to lose weight. When people would ask, we converts would say "yeah, we lost weight eating cheeseburgers, and we didn't have to work out every day". As you might imagine, this totally fits into the American Core Belief system, and since then every January, millions of us throw away our potato chips and pasta, buy a bunch of meat & cheese, and expect the pounds to just melt away.
In defense of the doctor, who has since passed and then posthumously and somewhat unfairly had his reputation tarnished, he wrote of some very specific requirements that 99% of us ignore when starting our annual carnivore diets. He advocated the avoidance of processed foods, constant vigilance for label reading on everything you consider eating, as well as liberal use of his name brand vitamins and supplements. But people don't consider these things, because they're difficult. They just want to eat the cheeseburgers. Lately, the Atkins Diet has been hoovered and rechristened as Keto, which has opened the door for dozens of supplement providers to profit from it.
Keto can work, but your margin for error is thin
I am re-attributing this chart to illustrate another point: the necessity to ramp up your efforts at first
Most of you, not being 'Murrican, do not need diet advice. If you do need advice, I suggest trying something more intuitive such as intermittent fasting, counting calories, or removing sugar. Low carb has worked for me, once or twice. Actually, every time I start I lose weight but it is just so unbelievably unsustainable. There are dozens of pitfalls with the diet, and here are some of the most common things I, and others, fail to do.
The first one is not ramping up your efforts. People tend to start diets on Monday (the start of the workweek) which usually means Sunday is spent gorging on all the unhealthy stuff you will do without going forward. Sort of a 'last meal'. Then Monday, all carbs are cut out in favor of bacon and cream cheese. By the evening, you've yelled at everyone at work because you feel like crap. You have just shocked your metabolism and it does not know how to supply energy the way it was used to. You need to taper off over the course of 7-10 days, and the tapering has to be consistently linear so the body can adjust.
Avoiding the Keto Flu
The Keto Flu: common complaints after a few days include headaches, joint pain, and muscle cramps. What typically happens is, dieters tend to eat a few eggs, some cheese and some meat the first few days. Maybe some veg but not always. You get filled up on less food, resulting in fewer calories and some water weight loss. Now, everyone knows to DRINK MOAR WATER but the problem is, H-two-oh isn't going to replace the potassium, magnesium, and sodium that you are literally pissing away. Missing electrolytes result in pain, which often results in diet abandonment. "Oh, so drink some Gatorade". No, it is full of sugar. "They have diet Gatorade". It is inpotable swill. Moral: eat your veggies, and replace your electrolytes with some supplements.
Supplements are almost always necessary but must be approached carefully
I just thought this looked intimidating
Because the typical American metabolism is so bent out of whack, the use of a chromium supplement is necessary to shift your body away from water-loss into fat-burning mode. Back in the day, Dr. Atkins made his fortune selling his nutrient kits. Now, as I mentioned you can find dozens of products in the market. But each formulation is different, and odds are yours may end up causing undesirable side effects due to increased blood pressure, food allergies and other intolerances. My wife is very good at internet sleuthing, and a couple of times was convinced that she had found the right mix for us. The first one raised my BP to the point that steam rose from my forehead, and the second one sat in our guts like a derp and did nothing.
Many people spend a small fortune trying Keto supplements that are at best benign and at worst, harmful. But even more people balk at the expense, the need to change their habits, and most of all, the taste! Stuff tastes like crap! So they take nothing and wonder why they aren't losing weight.
Just because someone says something's 'keto' doesn't mean it's good for you
This is a very 'murrican, very flawed tray of 'keto snacks'
One giant misconception is the notion that protein is the core component of a low-carb diet. The over-simplified premise of the diet is: once a body achieves a healthy ketosis zone, it will utilize fat as its fuel source as opposed to the carbs it had been using, and protein which is twice as energy dense as carbs, will provide the sated feeling. But the false equivalency here is that 'high-protein' is a synonym for 'keto'.
This tray above has some jerky that is high-protein but not only is it low-fat, which contradicts the keto premise, but it most likely was cured with sugar. The cheeses and sausages have fats and proteins, but are they the right kinds of fats? Most of us do not understand the difference between saturated and unsaturated, etc. The pickles, is there sugar in the brine? On the top row is something called 'fat bombs' which are lumps of typically coconut fat mixed with nut butters or 'unsweetened' chocolate. What could go wrong, there?
I don't see any greens or unprocessed meats anywhere on here, and that leads to my last issue with Americans reverting to keto:
To effectively change requires true understanding and sacrifice
As a combination techie/feelie, I loves me some Venn diagrams
A core Belief for the typical American is that we heart big satisfying hefty food. It means love, happiness & freedom. A Truth is that moderation in all things is necessary, thus some things must be eaten sparingly if ever. The caloric needs of the modern man are vastly unlike the needs of the Agrarian Age. For the most part, these Truths and Beliefs are mutually exclusive.
All diets such as Keto attempt to bring the two together. Naturally I think you can sort out that if you can achieve the yellow "Knowledge" ideal above, eating foods you love in a truly healthy manner, then you can be healthy. It is so difficult! One time, 17 years ago, the two of us wanted to look good in front of our friends and families, so we did everything necessary. We exercised. We read every label. We made gawd-awful recipes with cream cheese designed to provide maximum benefits, if not taste. It was at our core at the time; it didn't feel like a sacrifice at all. We literally dieted our asses off, we lost the weight and we looked great up on the altar. We went to Maine on honeymoon, ate a bunch of lobster mac and blueberry ice cream, and never achieved Keto Nirvana again.
That level of motivation hasn't been there since. And before you unnecessarily remind me that, logically, the risk of a stroke should be far more important than looking good in a dress (um...), I know! It should be! But tasty, cheap, unhealthy food is absolutely available and unlike almost any other addiction I can think of, there is almost no social stigma or government regulation against it. It is soooo easy to reside in the purple area above, to think you are doing the right thing while sabotaging yourself in taking the easy way out each time. That's the Food Fail that nearly 200 million people in this country are stuck in, year in, year out.
What the what? If you aren't absolutely boggled, please let us know below: