Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the wee wee hours your mind gets hazy

I've spent 36 hours on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (not that I'm counting).

For those who aren't familiar with the phases of the South Beach Diet, here's a description of Phase 1, the most restrictive phase:

You'll stay on Phase 1 for two weeks, kick-starting your weight loss while learning what foods to enjoy and what foods to avoid.

What you'll eat: You won't go hungry — the plan involves eating three balanced meals along with snacks. The snacks, in fact, are mandatory, even if you're not hungry. The reason? They can help keep you more satisfied, so you're less likely to overeat at your next meal. During Phase 1, you'll eat foods such as lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, and shellfish (vegetarians can enjoy meat substitutes and tofu), along with eggs, reduced-fat cheese, nuts, beans, and plenty of vegetables.

What you won't eat: No bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, or baked goods. Not even fruit. Before you panic: You'll begin adding those things back into your diet in two weeks. But for right now, they're to be avoided. No candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, or sugar for two weeks, either. No beer or alcohol of any kind. After this Phase, you'll be free to drink wine, which is beneficial for a variety of reasons.

The toughest part for me right now is the bread restrictions, but I'm hanging in there.

I had to laugh, however, when I was going through Stater Brothers this morning to buy my Arrowhead sparkling water (a/k/a Wasser mit Gas) and my cashews. The guy in front of me was buying a half case of beer, a bunch of donuts, and some type of Captain Morgan. Wonder where HE works...

Independent of the South Diet website itself, there are some good things that are said about the diet:

This program does have its good qualities....One of the good things this diet has going for it is that it focuses on eliminating simple carbohydrates such as baked goods, pasta and bread (all of the good stuff) and replacing them with the more healthy complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables. This is an excellent eating habit to get into, and if more people did this, obesity would not be such a problem.

Even with this diet’s disciples and good qualities, the downside may just outweigh the upside. While cutting back on the “bad” carbs, dieters are expected to restrict themselves to lean meat, protein, low fat dairy products and worst of all, artificial sweeteners. While still in the first phase of the South Beach Diet you are actually not supposed to be eating most fruits and vegetables either! This can result in weakness, fatigue, nausea and a much lower energy level, and many people find it hard to cope with these difficulties and quit the diet.

Of course, some people are not as enamored with the South Beach Diet:

We combed the book cover to cover, allowing for the possibility that the hype used to attract buyers might belie a healthful, scientifically grounded weight-loss plan within. But that was not to be the case. Disappointingly, The South Beach Diet is simply yet another version of a fad wrapped within a gimmick. The fad here is the low-carb craze; the gimmick, the fact that this particular incarnation of low-carb is not high in saturated fat, like the Atkins plan. That’s certainly a good adjustment. But like all too many popular diet books, this one is replete with faulty science, glaring nutrition inaccuracies, contradictions, and claims of scientific evidence minus the actual evidence....

The premise of the book is that many foods high in carbohydrates send blood sugar soaring too high too fast, which then gets the hormone insulin in gear to take sugar out of the bloodstream. But the insulin overshoots its mark, causing blood sugar to plunge and leading to reactive hypoglycemia, which in turn produces feelings of incredible hunger and cravings for more carbs that keep the vicious cycle going....

There’s just one problem. Unless you have diabetes, blood sugar remains in a remarkably stable range. Yes, it may drop lower after eating a hot fudge sundae than after eating a salmon steak on a bed of lettuce. But, points out Christine L. Pelkman, PhD, who studies blood sugar responses to carbohydrate at the State University of New York at Buffalo, research that has looked at this issue simply has not linked relatively low blood sugar to hunger. “At most,” she says, “it’s a minor player in the hunger/satiety mechanism, with many other hormones and bodily reactions coming into play.”

More here.


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