|MadSci Network: Biochemistry|
The criticisms you hear about your "low carbohydrate" diet seem to be directed toward diets extremely low in carbohydrate. Some radical weight loss diets contain no more than 50 grams carbohydrate per day, and are designed to produce "ketosis" and weight loss. A different low carbohydrate diet is sometimes used to control seizures. The seizure-control, low-carbohydrate diet is low in carbohydrate but high in fat. Either diet requires that carbohydrate be extremely low. Both diets are high in fat. Using this diet for weight loss means that daily energy needs are provided by body fat, thus the weight loss. Using the diet for seizure control means energy is provided by dietary fat, thus no weight loss. Either diet is restrictive and difficult to manage because many staple foods contain carbohydrate. For example a bowl of sugar-free cereal contains approximately 30 grams carbohydrate, two slices commercial or one slice homemade bread (which is heavier) contain 30 grams carbohydrate. A serving of potatoes or corn or ½ cup pasta provides 15-20 grams carbohydrate and peas, carrots, or beets have 7-10 grams carbohydrate per serving, a glass of milk 12 grams carbohydrate. From your brief description, your diet, which contains vegetables and whole grains, might be more accurately described as sugar-free or devoid of processed grains. You might count the carbohydrate content of your diet on a typical day to decide whether "low carbohydrate" or "low sugar" or "low processed foods" is the best description of your eating pattern. A typical carbohydrate intake for an adolescent girl is approximately 250 grams and for an adolescent boy is approximately 350 grams. An intake of one half to two/thirds of this amount would not be unusual, but intake of less than 100 grams is restricted. If a diet is "low" in carbohydrate then it must be "high" in protein or "high" in fat. The food guide pyramid gives a serving guide for a moderate diet, one that is neither extremely high nor low in the three energy nutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). For an evaluation of your food intake use the "Interactive Healthy Eating Index" at the USDA site at http://www.usda.gov/cnpp/ Phyllis Stumbo, PhD, RD The University of Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org
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