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Are There Advantages to a Low Carbohydrate diet?

by | Nov 23, 2020

At my heaviest weight, I was 244 pounds. I hate to admit it, but I was probably heavier than that. I had just stopped weighing myself. I also hate to admit that my heaviest weight was NOT during my pregnancy. I look back and realize I missed out on so many of life’s moments and joys because of my weight. I missed out on riding amusement rides, swimming in the pool, hiking, snorkeling and anything that required a bathing suit or a lot of physical activity.

When I finally decided to try losing weight, I tried a popular low-fat diet. It was a “balanced” diet full of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, legumes, low fat dairy, healthy grains, and other “healthy” carbs. However, I found that I was still constantly hungry, having issues with low blood sugar and lost very little weight. I was avoiding sugar and had started to exercise but the scale would hardly budge. My skinny friends were continuing to eat what they wanted to, and I swear, they thought I was closet eating or something. All that work focus and dedication and not seeing the scale budge was demoralizing and eventually I just gave up.

Years later, my husband and I ran in to one of our friends, who is a doctor in Wyoming, and he told us about a low carbohydrate, low fat, doctor-supervised weight loss program. He had tremendous results personally with the protocol and his patients had amazing results as well. Many of them were able to decrease or discontinue medications for medical issues like diabetes type 2, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My husband and I decided to give it a try. I am not going to lie….the first 3 days SUCKED! I was tired, cranky, and hungry!!! Our friend reminded us to hang in there because ketosis was just around the corner. And then it happened……for the first time in years…..I was not starving…I was not focused on food….I would have to remind myself to eat….I would get full after eating half of my dinner and my blood sugar was perfect!!! I no longer felt shaky an hour after I ate, no more sweating and no more feeling like I could not get full. I found my former issues with any inflammation and joint pain were gone! My husband’s triglycerides and cholesterol plummeted! The pounds and inches started coming off and our energy was amazing! I would wake up before the alarm went off and was ready to rock my day! What a difference low carb made for us!

While working out and eating a “balanced diet” may work for some, it does not necessarily work for everyone, especially someone who has a genetic predisposition towards obesity and insulin resistance. We know that genetics and hormones play a huge role in weight gain. I have obesity and diabetes type 2 on BOTH sides of my family, so I am definitely NOT genetically blessed in these areas. You see, genetically, carbs are NOT my friend. They lead to easy weight gain, throw my blood sugar off and create cravings for more carbs. While eating lower glycemic index carbohydrates affect me less, they still affect me, especially fruit and any grains. I ALWAYS feel better when I am eating lower carb and my weight and cravings are much more controlled.

Physiologically, low carbohydrate diets work very efficiently. In simple terms, by decreasing your carbohydrate intake your body uses up your glycogen reserves and is forced to use the calories you have stored as fat. When you enter this physiological state, it is called ketosis. It is a natural, biological process. Many people think that “ketogenic” or “keto” weight loss programs are all high fat. This is not the case. In fact, high fat ketogenic programs are not good for some people, especially because people often end up eating too many unhealthy fats (can you say pounds of bacon and cheese?), which can actually make lipid profiles worse and can cause issues for people who have gallbladder problems.

There is a tremendous body of research showing the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet on diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, acne, PCOS, as well as several other chronic health issues. There is even current research being done on low carbohydrate diets and cancer. Certain types of cancer cells feed on sugar, so it would make sense that eating a lower carbohydrate diet could help decrease your chances of developing certain types of cancer. Eating a low carbohydrate diet also decreases inflammation.

Psychologically, a low carbohydrate diet offers many benefits. When you are in ketosis, you produce ketones which are made in the liver from the breakdown of fats. These act as a natural appetite suppressant. For the first time in my life, I felt in control of my food instead of food controlling me. Previously, when I was on low fat diets, I was constantly hungry, and I felt that it was some sort of personal shortcoming. Do not get me wrong…we all have “head hunger” sometimes but I had constant REAL hunger almost all the time! In addition, I was able to stick with this structured, doctor-supervised low carbohydrate diet to lose my weight because the scale was moving, and the inches were coming off. It was motivating, encouraging, and kept me going!

Many people who try to do “keto” or low-carb diets on their own fail. They end up eating too much fat, the wrong fat, too much protein, not taking the correct supplements or eating too many calories. They feel awful and can have very negative side effects if they are not doing it correctly. Plus, they do not know what to do when they get done and often times, go right back to the way they were eating before the diet, and end up regaining what they lost and often times more.

A structured program that provides the correct protein, carbohydrates, fat, and supplements is crucial for success. It is also important to eat a variety of low glycemic index vegetables. In addition, finding a program that focuses on teaching you healthy, low carbohydrate substitutions and recipes for long term maintenance is imperative. Look for a program that provides education, recipes, one-on-one support, an emotional eating assessment and strategies, and continued support for maintenance. It is also important to look for a program that GRADUALLY adds back in calories and carbohydrates back into your diet rather than just being “on” or “off”. Everyone is a little different in the amount of calories, fats, and carbohydrates they need for maintenance. This takes a little tweaking and is not a “one and done” kind of event. The whole goal is to phase back into whole foods while focusing on a carbohydrate amount that is right for YOUR body! An average day on maintenance for me includes lean protein, lots of vegetables, some great low-carb substitutions like zoodles, spaghetti squash and cauliflower rice, low glycemic index fruits (1 serving) and small amounts of “healthy” carbs like quinoa, brown rice, legumes, and very limited dairy. I have learned about some great low-carb options if I have a sweet tooth or am wanting something crunchy and salty (Can you say, “sea salt chickpeas?” YUM!). I take some great supplements and drink plenty of water. I have learned how to meal prep on Sunday so that I am prepared and can stick with my plan for the week. This saves me time, money, and carbs! I walk or hike 4-5 days a week and lift some weights. I have learned how to identify my triggers and have developed some great coping strategies and tips to help me through challenging times. These were all things that I have learned over time and continue to learn and tweak. And, when life throws me a curve ball (can you say, “Quarantine 15?”) or the holidays were a bit too much, I do a “tune up” and get back into my good routine. I LOVE sharing what I have learned with others to help them reach their goals.

It is important to note that a low carbohydrate diet is not for everyone. There are certain people with certain health issues or very serious medical conditions that would not be able to do a low carbohydrate diet safely, so it is important to go through a program that is doctor supervised. The program you choose should include a very comprehensive health profile that is reviewed by the doctor to make sure you are a good candidate for a low carbohydrate program.

Everyone needs to find what works for them. We all have unique situations, bodies, genetics and psychological issues that can pose challenges to losing weight. We are all about encouraging our patients and clients to find what works for them! And finally, it MUST be a lifestyle change!!! I am currently 4 pounds above where I graduated from the program 10 years ago. It takes work, time, focus, dedication, and SELF LOVE!

If you read this blog and feel like you may benefit from a low carbohydrate diet or have questions, we would be happy to talk with you about the Trinity Chiropractic Weight Loss Program. Our clients have lost thousands of pounds with this protocol, and we would love to help you too!

Sheryl Iszler, MSW

Dr. David Iszler

Dr. David Iszler graduated Summa Cum Laude from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1994. Dr. Iszler practiced in Casper, Wyoming for 24 years before selling his practice to move to Arizona. He now practices in Glendale, where he is blessed to serve families in the Northwest Valley. He and his wife, Sheryl, are also sought-after wellness speakers, sharing health and wellness advice with businesses and organizations in his community.