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Carbohydrates – Why Low Carb and No Carb Diets Don’t Work for Most Women

June 8, 2011 by LowCarbo  
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Carbohydrates – Why Low Carb and No Carb Diets Don’t Work for Most Women

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Home Page > Health > Carbohydrates – Why Low Carb and No Carb Diets Don’t Work for Most Women

Carbohydrates – Why Low Carb and No Carb Diets Don’t Work for Most Women

Posted: Mar 16, 2011 |Comments: 0



Here’s a very simplified description of what happens when you eat carbohydrates: Our pancreas secretes the hormone insulin which controls blood sugar. During digestion, carbs are broken down to the simplest sugar-glucose. How much glucose stays in the blood and how much goes into the cells is regulated by insulin. Our blood sugar levels can shift erratically when insulin levels are too high or too low. Diabetes is the consequence of high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). Headaches, spaciness, shakiness, muscle weakness and mental confusion are some of the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Carbohydrates convert to glucose and our brains need glucose to function optimally. In my opinion a no carb and sometimes even low carb diet is asking for BIG trouble. Women especially need balanced portions of healthy carbs to produce serotonin-the brain chemical mastering moods, controlling cravings, satiety (fullness), sex drive, and sleep. If our serotonin levels are too low, we may experience depression, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping and cravings for carbs, chocolate, tobacco or alcohol. (Anti-depressants just help us keep what serotonin we already have, they don’t produce it-thus the dependency.)

Self-medication: When our bodies are not producing enough of the ‘happier mood’ chemicals and hormones, we often ’self-medicate’ with mood enhancer imposters like refined carbs (sweets, desserts, processed foods, chips etc) tobacco, alcohol or drugs which make us feel better temporarily. Our body is tricked by these imposters so it stops producing the happier mood chemicals. Since the imposters are not produced naturally, the cycle of addiction begins and we continually need our food or drug fix in order to feel happier.

We can choose to eat more complex rather than refined carbohydrates:Complex carbs take longer for the body to digest and don’t usually spike our blood sugar. Brown rice, whole grains, sprouted grains, whole fruits, beans and legumes are complex carbohydrates. Processed foods and snacks, desserts, juices, pop and sugars are refined carbohydrates. Fruits are natural simple carbs. Most refined and some simple carbs can spike our blood sugar dramatically. High Fructose Corn Syrup(HFCS) is the BIGGEST culprit in spiking blood sugar and added to many food products. I invite you to read about the havoc HFCS wreaks in our body online and to be sure to read labels on all foods before purchasing.

One way to avoid ’spiking’ is to eat some protein with carbs to slow down the whammy to our blood sugar. When we eat a small amount of protein with carbs assimilation slows down and becomes more balanced.

An exception is melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew etc) Since melon sugars are broken down rapidly, if combined with protein (which takes much longer to digest) the sugars will stay in the stomach too long and become fermented and can cause digestive issues. To avoid this, always eat melons by themselves at least 20-30 minutes before other foods.

Insulin Resistance: Since blood sugar is an issue for a lot of people-including me, I am beginning to learn about insulin resistance (IR). IR is a condition where insulin is blocked from carrying glucose into the cells so the pancreas pumps out more insulin to overcome the resistance. In Chapter 6 of her book The Feel Good DietDr. Cheryl Hart states that at least of 75% of overweight Americans have some degree of insulin resistance. Uncontrolled insulin resistance can lead to high blood pressure, fat around the waist, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. The Feel Good Diet is easy to read, very educational and offers lots of recipes to lose weight and keep blood sugar levels normal. Dr. Hart has a quiz in her book to determine if you are insulin resistant. Dr. Hart offers 1-Day clinics to educate women about natural hormone replacement and weight loss. I attended both clinics and came away feeling confident about listening to the signals my body sends when something is ‘off kilter’ and learning what I can do to bring myself back to balance. While I don’t agree with all of the foods she recommends in her recipes, most of her information is terrific.

Some guidelines when insulin resistant: Always eat protein with a carb (1/2 cup or 4 ounces of carbohydrate to 1 ounce of protein) Eat low fat, not no fat. Most vegetables are insulin neutral. These fruits are not insulin spiking if eaten raw and may be eaten without protein: apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, grapefruit, lemons and limes.

A few examples of carb/protein balancing:

Unsweetened yogurt or cottage cheese (protein) with fresh fruit (carb)
Chocolate candy with nuts (protein) and dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate
Almond or peanut butter (protein) spread on bread (carb)
Milk (protein) with cereal carb)
Egg or cheese with toast


Artificial Sweeteners: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND AVOIDING ALL artificial sweeteners-Equal, Splenda, Sugar Twin and Sweet n’ Low. You can check out the health dangers online.

Healthier Natural Sweeteners: Many of us like to sweeten our coffee, tea, oatmeal, cold cereal or hot cereal. Healthier alternatives to refined white sugar are Stevia, Organic Blue Agave Syrup (my favorite), honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, raw sugar and organic sugar. The first two are lower in the Glycemic Index scale. Some people find Stevia has a bitter aftertaste. If you’re not familiar with the Glycemic Index you can find information online.

Some natural sweetener substitutes may cause excess gas, bloating and digestive distress-sorbitol, malitol and zylitol are the most common of the sugar alcohols. Erythritol is least likely to cause digestive disturbances and has zero calories and is zero on the Glycemic Index and has not been found to affect blood sugar or insulin levels.

Only you can know how many carbohydrates you need to eat in your daily diet. If you have any questions, please be sure to check with your health professional.

©2008 Sheryl Allen This article may be reprinted in its entirety as long as the authors resource box is included.

Sheryl Allen has been gathering innovative, healthier life choices for 30+ years and putting them into practice. Sheryl is the designer of Thrival Kits® ‘Your Ultimate Fresh Food Travel Companion’. The stylish, versatile Classic Black kit is the perfect solution for savvy, health conscious professionals and travelers to conveniently carry fresh, delicious food as well as personal, business and travel items while ‘on the go’.


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