Low Carb vs. Low Fat

November 29, 2004

Albany-- Tempted by savory dishes and sweet treats this holiday season, it is near impossible to avoid gaining an extra five or ten pounds.

Gaining is the fun part, it is losing the weight that's tough. Americans will spend billions of dollars and try countless diets to do it. From low carb to low fat, do these diets really work? Or, is all a bunch of hype?

Dawn is breaking. It's breakfast time for the Dougherty County Commission Chairman at the Flash Foods Store on Westover Boulevard.

 Cook Barbara George says, "He is one of our regular customers and we know our customers! He comes in everyday!"

Jeff Sinyard says, "She didn't have me order 'cause I always get the same thing!"

Sinyard keeps it simple, "$2.15 cents for eggs, bacon and bottle of water. It's the breakfast of champions!"

It's a breakfast that's a winner for him. "Every morning I have bacon and eggs, it is on the low carbohydrate South Beach diet."

Go to your local bookstore and the shelves are lined with the latest weight loss fads promising to keep you in the Zone or bust your Sugar Cravings. There is even a diet founded on a favorite cocktail!

But, the most popular are the plans that shun carbohydrates in favor of lots of protein, like the Atkins Diet and the best selling South Beach Diet. But do they work? Just ask Jeff, "March 1st this year, I have lost right at 35 pounds, I have 20 to go. I am down to two chins! So I am doing better."

These people are dropping pounds too, but in a completely opposite way. "I have lost just a little over 60 pounds." Leonard Perry and his wife Emily have been learning how to eat low fat, high carbohydrate meals for nearly a year.

Perry says, "My daughter was home last Christmas and she challenged me to go on a diet." Cutting fats across the board and uping intake of grains, fruits and veggies is helping these people cut the pounds.

Perry says, "It is tough to start it but once you get in the program and get used to what you are eating, it is not that tough."

"A lot of people are sacrificing their health for weight loss."

Clinical dietician Frank Heredeen has seen quicker results with low carb diets, "During the first six months low carb diets do produce more weight loss than say a low fat diet." But, he thinks low fat diets are safer, "Will a high protein diet hurt your kidney? No, if you have a healthy kidney it won't hurt your kidney, but it can cause you to have a lot more saturated fat in your diet."

The South Beach diet that Jeff is on is less extreme than other low-carb diets, encouraging lean meats, lots of veggies, and some fruits--no grains or sweets allowed. But, that high cholesterol egg and fatty bacon is acceptable too. Jeff says, "My physician was worried about my cholesterol, all the numbers were going the wrong direction, I mean really the wrong direction, from high blood pressure to high cholesterol."

Yet, after just a few months on the low-carb plan, "I am happy to say July 9th I went back a year from last year and the numbers were literally almost cut in half across the board and it has just proven to me that weight is the key factor for me."

When Leonard started the low-fat, high-carb plan, he had sleep apnea and high triglycerides. Six months into it, "I went back in June to my doctor and they had dropped over half of what they were so that tells you right there I am on the right program."

Both men claim they are dropping weight and dropping cholesterol levels on completely opposite eating plans. So which one do you choose? We asked the expert. When asked if he would choose a low carb or a low fat diet, Heredeen says, "No, I would try to do a balance."

According to this clinical dietician, getting regular exercise on top of eating a balanced diet is the right combination for long-term weight loss and health. But, no matter what weight loss method you choose, finding a healthy plan you can stick to is the key. Leonard agrees, "I've got to, for my health."

Studies show that the majority of people who go on crash diets will gain the weight back within a year, plus an additional 10 to 15 pounds! Healthy weight loss is one to two pounds a week.

Clinical dietician Frank Heredeen recommends that people eat five to six smaller meals spaced out through the day.

Posted at 4:18 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com