Most people who know anything about low-carbing are familiar with the popular low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet, Protein Power, Carbohydrate Addicts LifeSpan Program, South Beach Diet and several more. Many people that follow a low-carb diet try to follow the really strict low-carbing regime of really few carbs in the Atkins diet, with as little as 20 grams a day for the entire weight loss period. It’s really meant to be that low for only two weeks during a period called induction. To continue to follow induction works for some folks, especially those who have a lot of weight to lose. Some people increase their carbs, as they’re meant to according to several of the low-carb diets and that works for many other folks.
Moderate low-carbing has its place for lots of folks who are no longer enthused with very low-carb diets. These same folks may now have developed what my sons call a “carb conscience”. White flour, white sugar and junk foods in general are now widely accepted as not healthy foods, but rather as anti-nutrients as the late Dr. Atkins stated. Moderate low-carbing in my opinion can fall anywhere between 50 and 100 grams of carbohydrate per day, still a far cry from the over 300 grams a day in the typical North American diet. Obviously the higher the carbs, the lower the fat should be. Someone who is eating 20 grams of carbohydrate a day will be eating more fat than someone eating, say, 60 grams of carbohydrate a day. In my personal experience, being rather short in stature at 5’ 3”, calories also matter for me. I need to eat less in order to lose more, but by low-carbing with adequate fat, my appetite is usually satiated more easily. One of the tricks that I incorporate when I feel hungry or shaky (I sometimes experience low blood sugar episodes) between meals is to have a cup of tea with evaporated milk and a teaspoon of no sugar added peanut butter. Some people may find that cheese works better. At any rate, that combination usually settles my hunger for many hours and I no longer feel shaky or weak.
Carbohydrate Addicts LifeSpan Program written by the Hellers is a lesser known lower carb diet that also does an effective end-run on insulin production. This program allows higher carb foods at only one time during the day. This obviously limits frequency of insulin output. It involves two very low-carb meals (not much insulin released at all) and one reward meal with carbs of heart’s desire included in a balanced meal to be eaten in one hour to prevent a second insulin surge, which apparently happens sometime after eating longer than one hour. The reward meal needs to be roughly balanced 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbs, 1/3 veggies and requires that one start the meal with a salad. The times that I follow this way of eating I most often skip eating the salad upfront and eat it with my meal as the veggie allowance. This is my personal preference, but obviously not the way it is intended. The salad is meant to fill one up and prevent overeating on the reward meal. At any rate, this diet does allow one the flexibility to eat at friends’ houses or at restaurants without having to completely forego the more carbohydrate-filled foods. It is also something that can be incorporated as a day here or there on a stricter low-carb regimen. It is a very good strategy to keep in one’s low-carb arsenal.
About diets in general and my own personal diet: We all know that diets don’t work, but that changed lifestyles produce long term, permanent results. Exercise helps to keep the metabolism from dipping low and sabotaging our efforts. The most successful dieters keep a journal. I suspect it is because one can see trends and one can see what works and what doesn’t. It acts as a learning tool to fine tune one’s dieting strategies. Graphing one’s weight is another way to encourage one to keep seeing the downward trend. There are web sites, I am told, that will provide this service free of charge.
Although I wrote cookbooks to help people low-carbing even at very low-carb levels, I myself have been following a moderate low-carb approach for several years, as it is what suits my lifestyle best. It is also better for my thyroid condition to have a slightly higher carbohydrate intake. I would guess that I eat around 60 grams of carbohydrate a day, sometimes less and sometimes more. My fat intake is moderate and my protein intake is normal to just below normal for my body. When I’m trying to lose weight, calories do count for me at those carbohydrate levels, and I do better in the framework of a diet like Carbohydrate Addicts LifeSpan Program, because my thyroid disease can mimic insulin resistance. There are new diets out there like JUDD (Johnson’s up day, down day diet) and Fast-5 that could also incorporate low-carbing to make them easier on hunger and to make them more effective for weight loss. Everyone needs to find their own niche and what works for them. It might not be low-carbing at all and I can certainly appreciate that, as everybody is so different. That said, my first two books, Splendid Desserts and More Splendid Desserts are for folks following a more traditional low-fat, sugarless and low-calorie diet.