Bacon vs. Carrots

I recently received a question from a reader located in the DC area that went something like this- "How does  a low carb diet work?  I've been thinking about trying it but I just don't trust a diet that says you can have all the bacon you want, but stay away from those evil carrots."  Well lovely DC reader, you are not alone in that question.  People ask me all the time if it really works, and how they can get started.

Let me start out by saying that I am not a doctor and I am not a nutritionist.  I am, however, a person who has read dozens of books on low carb eating.  I have also practiced eating a low carb diet on and off for well over two years and feel comfortable talking about the results.  

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If you really want a comprehensive run down of the science behind a low carb diet, your best best is to grab one of the many texts that are out there and get crackin.  I know that the sheer volume of information is daunting, so let me point you in the right direction.  The New Atkins for a New You is the most well known volume of low carb information.  It's a little dry and science-y, but if you're looking for info on what's going on in your body when you cut carbs, this is a good place to start.

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If you don't care much for the science of things but are interested in a run down of all the low carb diets out there, How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds...And How You Can Too! by Dana Carpender is a quick and entertaining read.  I got through the whole thing in a couple of weeks, and I'm not what you would call a voracious reader.  This book offers lots of good information that will help you choose a low carb plan that is right for you.  It also has a companion cookbook that I really enjoy called 1,001 Low-Carb Recipes, also by Dana Carpender.

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Another low carb text that is pretty popular right now is Wheat Belly by William Davis.  I read this book and loved it, as did my mom.  Davis not only explains how the wheat in our diet can cause weight gain, but he also goes into a lengthy explanation about the other health benefits you can reap by cutting the carbs from your diet.  Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, and general lack of energy are all addressed in this book.  If you have questions related to genetic modification of the wheat we eat today and how it affects our bodies, this is a great place to look.

The quick and dirty of all of these is that our bodies convert carbohydrates to sugar that can be burned as fuel.  Many of us are eating more carbohydrates/sugar than our bodies can reasonably burn through in a day.  That extra sugar is converted to and stored as fat.  When you keep your blood sugar low by not eating carbohydrates and sugars, your body starts to break down it's fat stores and use those for energy throughout the day.  Simple, right?

Another aspect of my diet is to teach my body to quit craving sugar.  The less sugar you eat, the more things without added sugars (berries, yogurt, cream) will start to taste sweet.  The first 2-6 weeks can be challenging, depending on how many sweets you are used to eating.  Once you power through those first few weeks you really will find yourself craving 'something sweet' less and less often.

Of course, at some point there is such a thing as too much bacon.  I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating.  Eating low carb is not an excuse to go nuts and stuff yourself at every meal.  It simply means that you can eat more of the things you enjoy, stop when you are full, and not worry so much about counting points or calories.  The flax that I have for breakfast most mornings has fatty ingredients like heavy cream and butter, and these things are calorie rich, which may turn some folks off.  The reason I love it (and I promise I am not exaggerating here) is that it keeps me full up until 1:00 when I usually have lunch.  For me, this is the overarching theme behind all of my low carb meals and snacks.  Eat until you are satisfied, stop eating when you are full, eat again when you are hungry.  If I have a serving of carrots after work I may be hungry again before dinner.  If I have a couple of pieces of bacon after work, I'll probably make it until awesome boyfriend comes home and then some.

Many thanks to the reader who sent in this question!  I could not continue to write these articles and recipes without you all.  Please continue to submit your questions and suggestions to lifelovelowcarb@gmail.com, or leave them in the comments field below.

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