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And the Great Carbohydrate Debate Goes On

May 28, 2021 | The Pointe

May’s Pointe Fitness Newsletter discussed body weight and its level of importance in predicting health. The conclusion was that body weight is not necessarily a measure of health, but we shouldn’t allow that to excuse us from healthy behavior. The correlation between overweightness/obesity and quality of health in our population is undeniable. This brings us to the great carbohydrate debate and the macronutrient’s importance in weight gain/loss.

A recent article in Medical News Today, Scientists propose a rethink of the role of carbs in obesity, offers yet another overview of the two schools of thought (calorie deficit vs low carbs). In addition, it offers specific, recent studies that point to the oversimplification of low carb diets (and their relationship with insulin), and then a rebuttal by a pro low-carb doctor. Taking a step back for a moment, this topic mirrors one of politics.  There is little chance of one school of thought convincing the other that its way is the correct way. It is highly doubtful that people that have success managing their weight via low carb eating will ever be convinced that controlling their immediate insulin response is not the proper way to go about it. On the other hand, people that have success counting calories and worrying less about the macronutrient composition of their diets will ever think going high protein, low carb has anything to do with weight management. Even the smartest PhDs can’t even get on the same page. So, what is one to do?

Outside of breaking news that one philosophy, and everyone behind it, magically becomes enlightened by the other, there is a strategy you can implement...

  • Educate yourself. There is plenty of information out there. Reading up on the two philosophies and trying what you think will be the best route for you is important. If your ideas align with a method, chances are you’ll be able to stick to it. Both take a level of determination and discipline, but the low carb method makes the discipline aspect even more important. Do you have more of an all-or-nothing personality (low carb)? Are you a little more forgiving of yourself and will recover should you “fall off the wagon” and prefer to keep all food options available (calorie counting)?
  • Check with your doctor. This step isn’t to get your doctor’s opinion on which philosophy to follow. We’ve already covered the divide on that. Talk to your doctor about your dietary plans to see if there are any health history concerns to consider before jumping in. Chances are, your doctor will be supportive of your weight management motivation.
  • Begin your experiment. Once you have a clear understanding of the plan you will be following and your doctor gives you the thumbs up, jump in to the plan and see where it leads. Do you see progress? Are you finding it easy or difficult to stick to the plan? Can you see the plan becoming a lifestyle versus a short-lived diet?

The great carbohydrate debate will likely never end. Studies will continue to provide information and scientists will continue to use the information to support and/or discredit one of the philosophies. The problem with this is these studies don’t consider the individual. Every individual is different; and not only from a physiological standpoint. Whether it be diet or physical activity, it is apparent that there is more than one way to reach goals and live a healthy lifestyle. Finding what works for you is the goal, and that is not up for debate.



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