Monday, November 15, 2004

Study: Low-Fat Diets Better Long-Term

Yahoo! News - Study: Low-Fat Diets Better Long-Term: "Study: Low-Fat Diets Better Long-Term" - Regardless of how they shed pounds in the first place, big losers stayed that way by limiting fat rather than carbohydrates, according to new research that could add fuel to the backlash against low-carb diets....."

I have a little story to tell. It doesn't surprise me to read this article (which was interesting, BTW). Last year I decided to switch from my low fat diet to a low carb diet. I missed eating "real" (ie. non-low-fat cheese), and bacon sounded so good to me. I love my bread and pasta, but all of the information about how void of nutrition these things are, all pumped up with white sugar made sense to me.

So I started eating low-carb, following Atkins at <30g carbs per day. I did this for 9 months. I lost weight - over 20 pounds in the first 3 months, and maintained the loss the entire time. There were a few odd side effects... it messed up my period, which freaked me out, because - well that's a pretty important bodily function, and if my diet can mess it up, that just doesn't seem like a good thing to me. By the end of the 9 months I was suffering from horrendous insomnia. At first I thought it was just because I was so busy with work and things, but I eventually tracked the problem down to my low carb diet. (When I went back to a low-fat diet, within a few weeks I was again sleeping like a baby). Low carb was also affecting my high level mental processes - I don't know how else to explain it other than to say, whenever I'd have a programming project or reading assignment or homework to do, I was... dumb. I couldn't remember how to do things I've been doing for years, couldn't keep on a train of thought without losing my place. At the end, I was even forgetting common words! Like, I'd be talking to someone and just couldn't find words to speak. It was really bizarre.

I didn't think that any of this was related to low-carb. Then, I fell off the wagon. A string of family parties followed by hectic work schedules and not enough time to go food shopping for more low-carb foods, and I went off low carb eating for about 3 weeks. It was then that I realized my "symptoms" began clearing up (which I didn't even know were symptoms - I thought I was just getting old and busy!) My period went back to normal, I was sleeping through the night, and had mental clarity and energy I'd forgotten existed.

Low carb dieting really messed me up. So, I didn't go back to low-carbing. I mean - low carb "works" - don't get me wrong. I lost weight, and honestly I found it *easier* than low-fat dieting, because if you have the willpower to skip the bread, there are tons of low carb meal options that are downright indulgant. I can't tell you how yummy it was to have a turkey sandwich with bacon, with full fat mayo and real cheese (on low-carb bread of course). The bread wasn't so tasty but the sandwich... MMMmmmmmm.

That yummmm, though - not worth it. It really screwed my body up. Plus, those sorts of things just can't be healthy. Anything that can cause my period to be as wacked out as it was (when I'm normally like clockwork), and cause severe insomnia and loss of mental clarity - how can that be good for you? Low carbers can keep telling me that it's even healthier for my heart and cholesterol to be low-carb, and that may be true, but the other symptoms are just too serious - and seem too potentially dangerous and unhealthy to me.

It's low-fat for me!

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