Low Carbohydrate Dieting: Different Plans Compared

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Low-carbohydrate diets are making news these days, with everyone from Suzanne Somers to Spice Girl Geri Halliwell promoting them. There are books, commercials, newspaper and magazine articles, TV interviews, and packaged foods. Those wanting to start down the low-carb path to good health and weight loss are bombarded by choices: Should you use Atkins, Carbohydrate Addicts, Protein Power, SugarBusters, Somersizing, or Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution? They're all low-carb, but not all low-carbohydrate plans are created equal.In fact, they vary wildly in style, rules, and goals. By reading this article, you are helping yourself to take the very first step: picking the right plan for you.

Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution

Dr. Atkins' "New Diet Revolution" is perhaps the most famous low-carbohydrate plan to date. While Dr. Atkins did not invent low-carb dieting, he is responsible for getting the idea out to the general public. Before his book was first published in the 1970's, low-carbohydrate diets were used medicinally to control seizures in epileptic children but were not considered for weight loss or weight control.

His diet starts off with an induction phase, two weeks where the dieter maintains a carb intake of less than 20 grams per day, resulting in rapid weight loss, as much as two pounds per day (often from retained water). After induction, the dieter can gradually raise his or her carbohydrate intake until the personal weight loss threshold "" however much one can consume and still lose weight "" is reached. The main goal of the Atkins' plan is to lose weight, and then consequently maintain weight. Pleasant side effects can include lowered "bad" cholesterol, increased "good" cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and many other related benefits. If your goals are mainly weight loss-related, "New Diet Revolution" is a worthy investment.

The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet (CAD), Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program (CALP)

The premise of this plan is that there are people who are, for whatever reason, physically addicted to carbohydrates. The addiction creates cravings, which when fulfilled causes weight gain. The Doctors Heller postulate that the carbohydrate addiction is caused by overproduction of insulin in the body that snowballs to affect other vital bodily functions including brain chemistry (an insufficient rise of serotonin in the brain, which means sufferers do not feel full) and glucose (sugar) metablism. The goal of the CAD/CALP is to control this overproduction and release of insulin and thereby control the cravings and weight gain associated with them.

With the CAD/CALP plans, weight loss is less of a goal than correcting the problem that caused the gain in the first place; the authors suggest no more than a two-pound loss per week. On this plan, dieters eat two carbohydrate-restricted meals a day along with one reward meal that can contain anything they want "" if it can be consumed within an hour. The restricted meals are not all that restrictive compared to Atkins, but the doctors suggest that dieters eat nothing for these meals that is more than four grams of carbohydrates per serving. There are currently several books in the series, including a title specifically meant for today's carbohydrate-addicted kids and teens, a gram counter, and a cookbook. If you find yourself dying for a baked potato, bread, pasta, corn, or any starchy food, this is a plan worth looking into. You can learn not only to control your cravings, but you can slim down slowly and healthily at the same time.

Protein Power

Protein Power, by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades, is similar to CAD/CALP in that the Eades believe that one of the reasons of obesity is not simply over-eating, but insulin resistance or sensitivity. Their diet plan is low-carbohydrate in order to control these insulin problems, but they also believe people do not consume enough protein. There is a formula to determine your lean body mass and fitness level, and from there to determine how much protein your body requires to maintain health, and they suggest you consume at least that much each day.

Protein Power weight loss comes in two phases: initial weight loss and continuing weight loss. During initial weight loss you are limited to 30 grams of carbohydrates per day, and the Eades stress that you should equally divide these among meals instead of eating it all at once because that could cause an blood sugar spike. Continuing weight loss has a carbohydrate intake of 55 grams per day, and again they suggest you spread these grams evenly over your day's meals and snacks. Once the goal weight is reached, dieters can slowly increase their carbohydrates until they find a level that is suitable for them. The Eades also stress the need to exercise and drink plenty of water. If you don't have much time for exercising, the book guides you to use weight training to build up your muscle mass for on-going health and fitness.


While Somersizing, devised by Suzanne Somers, is not exactly a low-carbohydrate diet, it comes very close to being one. If you want to Somersize, you have to cut out most "funky foods" such as starches, white flour, white rice, and natural foods like corn, potatos, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and bananas. Most refined sugar, hydrogenated fat, and preservatives, also get the boot "" of course.

The main component to Somersizing is eating the right foods in the right order/combination, unlike almost all of the other low-carbohydrate diets. Dieters following this plan are supposed to eat fruit by itself, on an empty stomach, and never with other non-fruit foods. You are also not allowed to combine fat and (non-vegetable) carbohydrates in the same meal; eat both with veggies instead, and if you are going to eat fat after eating carbohydrates, or vice versa, you must wait at least three hours between meals. Somers cautions dieters to never skip meals""this can and will slow down your metabolism. These rules are supposed to help the body metabolize what you eat in a more efficient way, thereby helping you lose weight. The books in this series are "Eat Great, Lose Weight," and "Get Skinny on Fabulous Food," plus an exercise tape called "Somersize" that gives the diet plan its name.

If you try one of these diet plans and it doesn't work for you, take heart and try another. Everyone is different and with different nutritional needs. And don't forget to talk to your doctor before changing your eating and exercise habits!

Side effects and complications are not discussed in this article.

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