Over two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obese, and the coming generation has a shorter life expectancy then their parents. It all comes down to what we eat and how much exercise we get. Greater than half of our calories come from carbohydrates – most of these are added sugars or refined carbs that our body converts directly to sugar. When you consume a food that contains sugar or refined carbs, it triggers the release of dopamine, the reward chemical in your brain that makes you feel good. So begins the cycle of cravings, blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Diets high in refined carbs and/or sugar initially lead to blood sugar spikes. But after your body scrambles to remove excess blood sugar, it can lead to low blood sugar, which leaves you tired and hungry. Humans can circulate about 5 grams of blood glucose (i.e., blood sugar) at a time, which is the equivalent to about 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. If your blood is required to circulate much more than that, it results in weight gain.
The main reason why low-carb diets, like the Atkins diet, are so effective for weight loss is that a reduction in carbs and increased protein intake lead to reduced appetite, making you eat fewer calories without having to think about it. I’m a big fan of the low-carb diet, particularly Atkins because unlike the popular Keto diet it doesn’t fully eliminate vegetables and fruit, which are essential components to a healthy diet and prevention of chronic disease. Research shows consuming fruits and vegetables has superior effects when it comes to healthy aging and prevention of disease. A diet high in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts), dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach and kale) and moderate in citrus fruits (e.g., oranges) and dark-colored berries (e.g., blueberries) seem to have the best effects on prevention of heart disease, certain cancers, osteoporosis and many other chronic disease states. Fruits and vegetables also contain many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber that are important for health.
Wondering where to start on a low-carb diet? The answer is breakfast. Research shows that a high protein breakfast prevents body fat gain. This is again due to reductions in hunger throughout the day. One of the most nutritious foods is a whole egg that contains high-quality protein and the B-vitamin, choline. Partner that with an antioxidant-rich cup of unsweet coffee or tea to kick start your day!
Note: Starting January 3, 2019, I have signed as a paid spokesperson for Atkins. However, as always, my ideas and advise are solely my own. I’ve been doing my own tailored version of this diet for years and am a true believer!