amused with two breakfast items offered at our California
hotel during a recent stay: Cowgirls Mexican Casserole
(scrambled eggs, cheese and peppers) and Peace, Love and
Granola (yogurt, fruit and whole grain cereal). Both sounded
good. But forget the peace, love and granola if youíre on a
carbohydrate "ketogenic" diets severely limit the
intake of sugars and starches (carbs) which are mostly found
in plant-based foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes
(beans) and grains. The idea is to force the body into ketosis
ó the build-up of acids in the blood called ketones that
happens when the body is starved of carbohydrates and is
forced to break down fat for energy.
popular ketogenic diets limit carbohydrates (the primary
source of glucose which powers our muscles, nerves and brain)
to less than 50 grams a day. But just because we limit carbs
does not change our need for glucose. The brain, for example,
needs more than 100 grams of glucose a day to function.
our amazingly adaptable bodies can make glucose out of
protein, although the chemical pathway is costly and
plus side, ketogenic diets have been shown to be effective
therapies for certain neurological disorders such as severe
epilepsy in children. And in the short term, they may be an
effective way to jump start weight loss. Because low carb
diets are high in protein and fat (when you cut the carbs, you
rely on protein and fat for fuel) they tend to curb a dieterís
appetite. Studies have shown that, for the first six months,
low carbohydrate diets produce greater weight loss than other
dieting methods. After a year, however, the overall success of
low carb diets is similar to other plans, possibly because the
diet is so difficult to maintain.
down side, when carbohydrates from plant-based foods are
restricted, the lack of dietary fiber results in constipation
and less good bacteria in our guts. (Remember that beneficial
bacteria or probiotics feed off certain types of dietary
fiber.) Besides restricting calories from
carbohydrate-containing foods, low carb diets also restrict
essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants associated with
foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
And, experts warn, extremely low carb diets are not
appropriate for everyone and may even be harmful for some
people with certain medical conditions.
we certainly can fuel these bodies from sources other than
carbohydrates, namely proteins and fats. Question is, should
would argue that we would all be well to cut back on
nutritionally empty carbs such as added sugar. Yet as
adaptable as these bodies are, they still have basic
nutritional needs. For lifeís long haul, I still like to
enjoy fruit and granola along with my cowgirl casserole.