Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to the Zone by Jonny Bowden, a Summary
Is a Low-carb Diet Right for You?
I recently picked up nutritionist Jonny Bowden's book "Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to The Zone" at the library. It has two taglines:
- Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss
- Choosing the Diet That's Right for You
What more do we need, right? Well, for me, that would be a little thing called willpower. You see, I love me my carbs. Bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, pies, crackers, muffins, just about anything with 20 grams or more of carbs per serving is fine with me. But of course, it shows. I have, on my own, in the past cut down on carbs and successfully lost weight.
I wanted to see what this book would say about low-carb eating. After all, it covers 14 popular low-carb diets, highlighting the pros and cons of each diet. I figured this was a quick and easy way to check out the latest and greatest (or not so great) on these diets.
Source: Living the Low Carb Life, 2004, Jonny Bowden.
Living the Low Carb Life: From Atkins to The Zone
14 low-carb diets compared
I'll briefly explain some of the key points of the 14 diets covered in this book. Again, I'm only highlighting the main factors of each diet. I'm not a doctor. If you want a complete explanation, please read the book yourself. I am not out to steer anyone wrong, but I want to give a snapshot of the diets to let you see for yourself if the book is something you'd like to read.
I won't get into all the talk about insulin, ketosis, cholesterol, and triglycerides. I can't even pretend to understand any of that very well. When I read it, what Jonny says makes sense, but I don't "know" it (and don't really care to).
I'll briefly explain each diet and tell how many stars Jonny gives the diet (five stars is best). So, here we go: let's look at the 14 low-carb diets in "Living the Low Carb Life."
The Atkins Diet
Robert Atkins, M.D.
The Atkins Diet was developed by Robert Atkins, M.D., a cardiologist, in 1972. The premise is to begin with eating 20 grams or less per day of carbs to kick start weight loss. On this diet, it is recommended to eat a diet of 25 to 35 percent protein with plenty of vegetables and fiber.
Jonny gives Atkins 5 stars.
The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet
Rachael Heller, M.A., M.Ph., Ph.D., and Richard Heller, M.S., Ph.D.
The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet was developed by the Hellers, a husband and wife team, when she had to have some medical tests and went without breakfast and lunch but ate dinner. She lost 2 pounds (she weighed in at 268 pounds). She refined this diet so that it became eating two meals of protein and vegetables then the third meal is to eat anything you like. No snacking is allowed.
Jonny gives the Carbohydrate Addict's Diet 3 stars.
The Fat Flush Plan
Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S.
The Fat Flush Plan, developed by Ann Louise Gittleman, is a spin off of a portion of the Pritkin diet. This fat flush diet focuses on "five hidden weight gain factors": an overworked liver, not enough fat-burning fats in the diet, too much insulin, stress, and "false fat," which is evidently water weight/water retention. This diet emphasizes eating less fat, detoxifying the liver, eating limited starch (read: carbs), some fruit, as many vegetables as you want, lean protein, and good fats.
Johnny gives The Fat Flush Plan 5 stars.
The GO-Diet: The Goldberg-O'Mara Diet Plan
Jack Goldberg, Ph.D., and Karen O'Mara, D.O.
The GO-Diet (named for the authors initials to their last names) was developed to help the authors lose weight themselves. This one is fairly simple and straightforward: daily totals of carbs are 50 grams (with only 12 to 15 grams eaten at one meal), eat lots of monounsaturated fats like avocados, olive oil, seeds, nuts, and olives, eat 25 grams of fiber per day, and eat yogurt, buttermilk, or kefir each day to add good bacteria to the body.
Johnny gives The GO-Diet four stars.
The Lindora Program: Lean for Life
Cynthia Stamper Graff
The Lindora Program: Lean for Life developed by Cynthia Stamper Graff is a six-week diet program for weight loss. She emphasizes journaling, motivation, and behavioral remodeling. The diet has stages where certain foods are allowed or not allowed, weight loss stages, maintenance stages, rinse and repeat.
Jonny gives the Lindora Program 2 stars.
The Neaderthin way of eating developed by Ray Audette, who in the 1970s had rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, later. He was only in his 30s when his troubles began so he researched diets and the "stone age" diet appealed to him. On this diet, you only eat meat, fish, fruits (berries are extra good), vegetables, and nus and seeds. That's right, no dairy, sugar, grains, beans, or potatoes. The claim is that the foods allowed on this Neanderthin diet are only the foods that early man had access to.
Jonny gives the Neanderthin 3 stars.
The Paleo Diet
Loren Cordain, Ph.D.
The Paleo Diet developed by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., is what Jonny calls "the most sophisticated example of the 'stone-age' or 'caveman' type of diet books." On the Paleo diet, you can eat as much lean meat, poultry, fish, and seafood as you want, unlimited nonstarchy vegetables and fruits, but no dairy, cereals, legumes, or processed foods.
Jonny gives the Paleo Diet 3 stars.
Michael Eades, M.D., and Mary Dan Eades, M.D.
The Eades came up with Protein Power, which consists of three phases. You are required to eat a certain amount of protein eat day by figuring out how much your body needs using your weight, level of activity, and some other calculations. More protein can be eaten but not less. Carbs are restricted and you can eat less but not more. (There's a lot of math, but it's easy when you break it down in steps!)
Jonny gives Protein Power 5 stars.
The Scarsdale Diet
Herman Tarnower, M.D.
The Scarsdale Diet was developed by Herman Tarnower, M.D., and claimed to be the perfect diet for all ages and weight loss of 20 pounds in 2 weeks was attainable. This a low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, high-protein diet that is strict in what can and can't be eaten. The diet is for 2 weeks then a slightly less restrictive diet is kept for 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat, as needed.
Jonny gives the Scarsdale Diet zero stars. None.
The Schwarzbein Principle
Diana Schwarzbein, M.D.
Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., developed the Schwarzbein Principle focuses on metabolic healing for weight loss. She says the systems in the body are connected and one imbalance creates another imbalance, eating fewer man-made carbs is a problem, and poor diet and lifestyle habits cause aging and disease, not genetics. It is not touted as a weight loss program but a healing program.
Jonny gives the Schwarzbein Principle 4 stars.
We all know Suzanne Somers. She came up with the catchy title Somersizing as her title of how to lose weight. She says food combining is the way to go: eat foods like full-fat butter, cream, eggs, red meat with whole grains, fruit, and vegetables in specified combinations. You don't have to count calories or carb grams.
Jonny gives Somersizing 2 stars.
The South Beach Diet
Arthur Agatston, M.D.
Arthur Agatston, M.D., a cardiologist, developed the South Beach Diet to change patients' "blood chemistry" but along the way they also lost weight. This diet cuts out for the first two weeks bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, baked goods, fruit, sugar, and alcohol. In the second phase, you get to add back carbs, but only enough so you continue to lose weight. The third phase is maintenance where you can add carbs and still maintain your weight loss.
Jonny gives the South Beach Diet 5 stars.
H. Leighton Steward et al.
Sugar Busters! was developed by H. Leighton Steward, M.S., Morrison Bethea, M.D., Samuel Andrews, M.D., and Luis Balart, M.D. This diet reduces or eliminates sugar from the diet. It isn't really a diet but a way of eating that changes the foods you eat in a general way.
Jonny gives Sugar Busters! 2 stars.
Barry Sears, Ph.D.
Barry Sears, Ph.D., developed The Zone that breaks down the amount of each type of food to eat for a healthy diet. This eating plan allows 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. This plan recommends eating three meals plus two snacks each day with the 40/30/30 ratio followed at each.
Jonny gives The Zone 5 stars.
Do You Eat Carbs?
Do you eat carbs? As much as you want? Or do you shy away from carbs?
How to Figure Net Carbs
Net Carbs Stick With You
I had no idea what net (or effective) carbs were, but it's simple. They are the carbs that your body has to work to get rid of.
How do I know how many net carbs something has, you ask. Well, when a package says there are 20 grams of carbohydrates per serving, look for how many grams of fiber it has per serving (for example, 6 grams). Subtract the fiber grams from the carbs to come up with net carbs of 14 (20 minus 6).
Total Carbs - Fiber = Net Carbs
The (Big) Bottom Line
I am not a dieter. I'm an eater. I have always eaten what I want. Good or bad, that's how my boat floats.
I've never been on a "diet" and don't intend to try Weight Watchers, The Zone, or to Somersize myself. What I am attempting to do is change my eating habits using some of the information I gleaned from this book, because it makes sense that eating fewer grams of carbs will help me stop gaining and maybe even lose some of this extra weight.
I cannot (or maybe a better phrase is will not) cut out all carbs, that is, foods I love. Not gonna do it. I have been trying a few new ways of eating though:
- I buy those thin sandwich buns that are less than half the size of regular buns.
- I eat more eggs, tuna, protein in general. I could be a vegetarian pretty easily so this is tricky sometimes.
- I look for thin sliced bread in the store and buy it if it's not outrageously expensive.
- Most days I drink a whey protein shake for a snack to add more protein to my diet.
- I skip the chocolate or other sweets and have peanut butter and whole wheat crackers for a snack (sometimes).
- Drink more water, which thankfully, I love and is easy to do.
My favorite whey protein powder
This whey protein stuff is amazing. I love mixing ice cubes, cold milk, and a scoop of this whey protein in a blender for a minute and drinking it down. The L-Glutamine makes it so satisfying! I like the vanilla but have heard the chocolate is mighty tasty too.
Note: I bought a container of chocolate and it is wonderful too!
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