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Low Carb appeal is high, results limited


from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

April 15, 2004
For immediate release

Christa Dickey
Jim Gavin

Nutritionist Says Lack of Food Variety Makes Low Carb Hard to Follow

ORLANDO  Low carbohydrate diets can be hard to follow and have mixed results both short and long term, says Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D. The restriction of certain food groups can make the specialized diets difficult because of the lack of food variety, even though the trend has created awareness of the negative weight effects of eating too many overly-processed carbohydrates, like those in some breads, cereals and other food containing refined white flour.

In an address to health and fitness professionals today at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Health & Fitness Summit and Exposition, Manore said the average low carb dieter is on the plan less than three months. Because you have to limit so much food, particularly important foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, dieters tend to cheat,modify, or forego the low-carb lifestyle.

"The high-protein, low carbohydrate diets brought a sensitivity to our intake of processed carbohydrates, which is good, said Manore. Yet eliminating so many foods with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients can have a negative impact on one's health in addition to significantly reducing meal options. It doesn't help a dieter to have so few options that they get tired of eating the same thing over and over, and ultimately give up.

Manore pointed out recent consumer research, in which about 67 percent of consumers said they were moderate users of low-carb diets (defined as watching carbs). Of that group, only five percent indicated they were dedicated low-carb users. Most respondents said they used the diet for short-term results; that is, rapid weight loss. Unfortunately, Manore says, that weight loss is partially fluid and is unlikely to stay off. In fact, people coming off the diet will likely experience a small amount of weight gain as the body becomes rehydrated.

Low carb diets appear to be safe and potentially effective for weight loss in the short-term for those under the age of 50, but Manore emphasized the data does not yet exist on potential health risks associated with long-term use. The diet is generally not recommended for active people because low carbohydrates intake can deprive the body of extra energy or make people too fatigued to exercise.

Manore suggests friends or relatives of low-carb eaters be patient and realize their diet restrictions are probably short-lived, lasting from two to six weeks. People who have lost weight the low-carb way are true believers. Rather than criticize, talk with them about the pros and cons of the diet. Promote balance by asking what they are eating. Oftentimes, they prefer the diet because they don't have to think or count, they just avoid the banned foods.

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 International, National and Regional members are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health and quality of life.