Health and Fitness

This is too easy. Just ask Google about low-carb foods, ignore the sites that sell them, and concentrate on the sites that rely on science rather than PayPal. Skip the sites displaying credit card logos and focus on the sites from hospitals, consumer protection agencies, news services, universities, and health agencies. Now start reading.

There are no surprises: the low-carb diet is still the same unscientific, over-hyped, crock it has been for decades. The only change is that now food manufacturers are taking advantage of your gullibility by manufacturing and hyping - notice the quote marks - "low-carb" foods in markets and restaurants. Warning: these low-carb foods are prepared and marketed in the same crock as low-carb diets.

Let's start with a brief rehash of the myths and facts of low-carb diets in general, then move into the fallacies of commercial low-carb foods.

  • Fallacy: Eating or avoiding any single ingredient or combination of foods can magically melt off pounds.
  • Fact: Weight control is still about calories in (food) vs calories out (exercise).
  • Fallacy: The ketosis induced by very low carbohydrate intake (or starvation) melts off excess weight.
  • Fact: Ketosis is the incomplete metabolization of body fat due to inadequate carbohydrate consumption. It makes our bodies consume and eliminate important proteins such as muscle, heart tissue, and other organs. Additional quick weight loss occurs when carbohydrate deprivation strips our muscles of their stored primary energy source and the water required to store it. Those losses are weight, alright, but certainly not excess weight.
  • Fallacy: Ketosis suppresses our appetite.
  • Fact: Yes, but as soon as we drop the diet because we hate it or hit our target weight, both the weight and the appetite quickly return, like a yo-yo. We've also weakened our organs and muscles and quickened our tempers.
  • Fallacy: Carbs bad, grease and protein good.
  • Fact: Bull!
  • Fallacy: Science aside, low-carb diets do work because carbs are fattening.
  • Fact: If it works for some dieters, it's because they ate fewer calories. Fortunately, because the diet restrictions get old fast, many low-carbers dump the diet before it harms them and some even eat fewer calories and actually lose weight. No food is inherently fattening.
  • Fallacy: Low-carb diets and foods are healthy, so we may as well eat them even if our weight is fine.
  • Fact: The diet is killing us and many low-carb foods are rip-offs. Keep reading.
  • Fallacy: Healthy or not, many successful dieters follow Atkins.
  • Fact: It's been around for three decades, yet fewer than 1% of successful dieters did it the low-carb way.
  • Fallacy: Recent tests show low-carb diets are safe and effective.
  • Fact: Recent warnings re-emphasize their hazards and fallacies. Dr. Atkins' heart conditions were a perfect example, and even The Atkins Machine now recommends less sat fat.
  • Fallacy: Carbs => blood sugar spikes => insulin => fat storage => obesity.
  • Fact: Unless you have diabetes, it's just bogus fear-mongering. Eat. Enjoy. Play. To lose weight, expend more calories than you consume.

Give it up, folks. Let's move on to the problems with individual, restaurant and market foods labeled as low-carb. Low-carb bread, low-carb candy, low-carb beer, cookies, pasta, pizza, cheesecake . people, these companies, and the whole low-carb diet industry, are absolutely laughing at you. It's costing you a collective fortune, and the low-carb diet is costing lives. Here's the lowdown on "low-carb" foods.

  • Fallacy: The label says it's low-carb..
  • Fact: So what? It's also low-gasoline, low-gold, and low-Legos. Besides, labels lie.
  • Fallacy: But its "net" and "effective" carbs are lower.
  • Fact: Food marketers - not nutritionists or the government - invented those terms. They mean absolutely nothing, and are usually lies anyway. The government is working to correct that by this summer..
  • Fallacy: If it truly is low-carb, as some are, it will help me control my weight.
  • Fact: Let me shout it this time: A 240-CALORIE PROTEIN BAR IS JUST AS FATTENING AS A 240-CALORIE SMORE. Atkins bread, Atkins candy, etc., often adds, not subtracts weight, compared to "diet" breads and candy, when it contains more calories.
  • Fallacy: Some low "net" and "effective' carb foods suppress the dreaded blood sugar spike.
  • Facts:
    1. Unless you're diabetic, you don't care about an occasional sugar spike.
    2. Even if you have reason to care, sugar spikes are mitigated by the foods you eat with that pint of syrup.
    3. Low-carb foods substitute alcohol sugars for some of the regular sugar. The former end in "tol", as in "sorbitol", and the toll you pay for them can include gas and diarrhea. Normal sugars end in "ose", as in sucrose. Both put exactly the same inches on your hips and pounds on the scale.
    4. Manufacturers lie about the "net" and "effective" carbs by not including alcohol sugars in the calorie count.
  • Fallacy: Omitting the bun makes a burger healthier.
  • Fact: I'm having a real hard time not swearing about that BS. It's the burger that's killing us, not the bun. Just stop eating at burger joints and you'll live years longer. I don't even know where our local burger joints are, any more than I know where the tanning parlors, low-carb groceries, and steak houses are. OTOH, I'm human; I know where Pizza Hut is, because I go there a couple of times a year.

The Low-Carb Machine is playing you for a fool (not "us"; Harvard, Quackwatch, convinced me not to believe, buy, or eat The Machine's nonsense. If you want pie, buy a freakin' slab of PIE, not double-cost, taste-numbed crap with sorbitol substituted for some of the sucrose). This low-carb scam contributes to obesity (successful weight management via low-carb diets is very rare), diabetes (because of the obesity), and premature death (because of the obesity and all the grease in low-carb diets).

You should be ANGRY at the insulting, money-grubbing Low-Carb Machine, rather than supporting it. Don't you find it insulting to pay up to four times as much for this stuff even though it often suffers in both taste and texture and doesn't improve your health? SUCKKKKKER!" (BOY am I going to hate writing an apology if the ongoing research proves all the sources from Harvard to Quackwatch wrong . but I'll do it.)

"They" make low-carb foods by replacing white bread with soy flour or wheat protein, adding fiber (and violating FDA regulations by ignoring the carbs in fiber to falsely lower their "net" carb count), using artificial sweeteners, adding nuts, and chemically reducing carbs in beer (they now call it "low-carb" rather than "lite" as they did decades ago, and charge more for it because of the Atkins craze). Those substitutions are healthy if you don't eat more calories than before, but they don't help you lose weight because they save very few, if any, calories. Many people believe the hype, eat more low-carb calories than they did with normal food, and thus gain weight. And if you eat too much of their alcohol sugars, you may pay the gas tax . . . er, toll . . . inherent in alcohol sugars.

Low-carb restaurant fare? Come on, folks; it's marketing, just like every other commercial product we buy. Subway's low-carb wrap, for example, has over 100 calories more than their low-fat subs that craze produced.

The FDA is on to the food manufacturers. Just as they have forced them to begin including trans-fatty acids in food labels, they are about to tell them how their labels must address low-carb claims. They've already ordered food manufacturers to stop labeling many foods as "low-carb" until the term is defined It's one case of big gum'mint working for us rather than against us.

The premiere pizza industry trade paper commented on the pizza sales slump brought on by the low-carb craze. I e-mailed the publisher, asking him to join other similarly impacted food industries such as citrus growers in educating the public to the fallacies of low-carb eating. I found his response alarming and revealing, but not surprising. He answered that the low-carb movement "does invite the opportunity to market an add-on Atkin's friendly menu, not completely revamp menus. With all the attention the beer companies, Subway Sandwiches, BK, YUM Brands and others are creating with national marketing, restaurant operators should capitalize on the opportunity." He added that Harvard, Johns Hopkins, et. al. say low-carb is healthy and effective. I countered that the very institutions he referenced still say low-carb diets like Atkins are not and cannot even be made safe or effective. He did not respond.

Do you want to choose your diet -- and set the course for your children's lives -- based on marketing, or on health science? Your diet is your call, but for goodness' sake don't subject your kids to this nonsense. It's irresponsible.

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