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The "Carbohydrate's Addict" diet.

Discussion in 'Fat Loss/Cutting' started by dodus, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    Howdy JSFers:


    Is anyone familiar with Dr. Rick and Rachel Hellers' "Carbohydrate Addict" diet? I came across their book at the library, and while it seems to be a bit old (perhaps I'm in the minority for never having heard of it) their diet struck me as a curious proposition. They bust out the usual analysis of the relationships between carbohydrates, insulin, and fat storage and fashion a 3-meal-a-day diet that eliminates carbs for two but allows for unlimited calorie and carb consumption for the third. So, for example, one would eat a reasonable P+F breakfast, a reasonable P+F lunch, and then have a one-hour window for dinner in which to consume a reasonably balanced meal containing any carbs one has been pining for all day. The benefits, so the argument goes, are that insulin is released once and only once each day, and cravings don't have time to accumulate, so bingeing does not happen.

    I'm intrigued and a little favorably inclined. Not to go on the diet as is, but to maybe make use of the principle. I don't know enough about science to be able to distinguish pseudo-science from the good stuff (which is why I'm posting this, in hopes that someone who can will set me straight), but they make a good case that from a physiological standpoint, one reasonably lax meal a day (ie one insulin spike) is more metabolically efficient than one lone but voluminous cheat day, if you have to choose between the two. And at this point I do...I've been diligently going to Nutridiary every 3 hours for the past 11 months and have yo-yoed my way back to skinny fat too many times to count.

    So, scientists, nutritionists, experienced bodybuilders and anybody else with an opinion...are there any hidden nuggets of gold in this admittedly gimmicky diet regimen? Or am I falling victim to fuzzy math?
     
  2. George

    George Senior Member

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    Good to see you back on here, Dodus. Hope you enjoyed Columbia.
    Have a look at this article by John Berardi. In it he advocates carbs only after exercise.
    I hope that's along the lines of what you're asking.
     
  3. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Well-Known Member

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    Well I've been having phenomenal results (11 lbs lost in less than a month) just by keeping my carbs around 50 - 75 grams and not caring where they come from. If I want a Hershey's kiss I'll have one and it doesnt matter what time of day (though I do try to get my carbs in before/after weights.) I also have a Free Day where I eat what I want but dont gorge one day a week. It's preventing me from binging which I used to have a serious problem with.

    The carb addict's diet kinda reminds me of Potatoes not Prozac, which promotes a potato before bed in order to raise seratonin levels.
     
  4. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    George: Thanks man! Colombia was indeed awesome...best 5 months of my life. The whole country's got the most ridiculous sweet tooth I've ever seen. The fitness regimen suffered. But worth every arepa. The Berardi quote kind of corraborates, ie, carbs can be taken out of plenty of meals to positive effect.

    Naturegirl: Very cool. That seems to be a pretty low-carb approach overall. My question is, are those 50-75g spread out over the day, or taken in one sitting?
     
  5. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Well-Known Member

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    Hm, pretty much all at once, well sort of. It varies. Breakfast is usually cheese, nuts or homemade beef jerkey. I'll have a piece of candy while I'm at work, which is like 5 grams or something. And my big meal is a late lunch that contains the bulk of my carbs ( bread; oatmeal; fruit; milk; cottage cheese; what have you). I eat this about 2 hours or so before both evening cardio and weights (cause my cardio is short and intense.)

    I havent decided whether to exact my carb timing more... You know whether to have all of my carbs at once before exercise so that the rest of the day I keep insulin and glucose levels at bare minimum. I'm leaning towards this actually now that I think about it.
     
  6. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    That's actually kind of what I'm leaning towards as well...after reading the arguments about insulin in this book, which all seemed to be pretty scientifically sound (though I barely trust myself to make that distinction), it sounds like for someone trying to lose fat, eating 75g of carbs once during the day is better than eating, say, 25g spread out over 3 of the 6 meals or something like that. At least, it's worth experimenting with.

    One question though: have you considered relocating the carbs to AFTER your workout instead of before? Unless you're doing it for energy purposes, I'd say that your body is equipped to do the most carb-damage control after the workout. Check the link to the Berardi article George posted above.
     
  7. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Well-Known Member

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    I split them up, so I have some both before and after (depending also on the itensity of the workout.) I am refining this though (trying to kick that one candy out of the way too), as I'm not consistent. I need to have at least 20 grams to sustain decent intense-effort explosive energy in any case. I always wondered how someone could sprint or weight lift while still in deep ketosis and blood glucose at very low levels. My muscles just straight out refuse to work! It's like I'm paralyzed. I can walk up about one small flight of stairs and by the time I get to the top my quads are feeling the burn like crazy. That's why I'm following more of a Targeted Ketogenic diet as opposed to a CKD.


    But yes, I have thought about the timing thing. It's like, well do I just ellicit small insulin spikes throughout the day or should I just have one big spike and get it over with as long as it's not a butt-load of calories in one sitting? I think the answer is the latter, for me anyway, especially if those carbohydrates are around workout time. I've got it in my head that as soon as I eat that carb, the fat burning process stops. Insulin and Glucagon have totally opposite effects, and right now I'm wanting to buddy up to glucagon, and insulin to be scarce.
     
  8. Black-Dawn

    Black-Dawn Well-Known Member

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    Allow me to butt in :)

    I think that carbs = "The Bad Guy" is taken to extremes.
    The most important thing is negetive energy balance.
    I consider playing around with the amount carb intake as
    a tool to control my total energy input.

    If I'll eat a simple carb meal with bearly any fat/proteins
    I'm going to be hungry soon afterwards and will eat another meal.
    ----> Total energy input going too high.

    If I don't eat enough carbs I will get cravings and eat extra food
    -----> Total energy input going too high.

    I do use refeeds to the tune of 600 +/- grams of carbs
    twice a week. for both mental and pysiological reasons :
    A. taking care of certain food cravings
    B. raising leptin and boosting my metabolisim.

    What I am trying to say here is that manipulating your carb intake is a tool to manipulate your total calorie input rather
    then some gimic/magical means of making you lose fat.

    if you can control your cravings better with one big carb meal/day. (nature girl) do that. If you need carbs in every single meal (me) do that.

    I would not worry about what way to getting my X amount of daily carbs will be most efficent in terms of fat loss. What would be the difference? +/- 2% ? I'd worry about how I can maintaine workout intensity/avoid cravings, these things will
    have a much bigger effect on total fatloss over the long term.

    Shahar.
     
  9. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    I hear you on the low-glucose exercising. When I ignore carbs for any significant length of time, even THINKING about exercising makes me want to faint. I dunno though--most of the time I make myself do it anyway, whether that's healthy or not, and I find that if I gently warm up on the bike or rowing machine and lower my weights a bit, the workout turns out to be very doable and even somewhat energizing. Coffee helps too.

    Yes! It just makes more sense that once that insulin is released, it doesn't really matter exactly how many grams of carbs you eat (or even what types?), within reason. Within reason meaning, that you're not sabotaging your caloric deficit. I've also experienced the feeling of halting fat burn the second I eat a serving of carbs...maybe it's not a head thing. It's not really a feeling of guilt...more like inefficiency.
     
  10. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Well-Known Member

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    Very good points Shahar, however, based on what I've seen and by what I've experienced myself, macros play a huge role in fat loss and are neck and neck with calories. I'm not going to go into it because topics about macros have been done to death of course :p .....

    But I will say that you are totally right about micromanaging, and not seeing the forest from the trees. In the end, it should be important to do what works best for you.

    But I still say there is something magical and special about lowering carbohydrate intake. It's had a profound impact on me.

    dodus-- I dont think it's in your head. Maybe I'm a total loon, but when I am losing fat, I know it. I can 'feel' it and it's been confirmed when I wake up in the morning to discover I've lost more scale weight or my jeans are more loose than they were the day before. I'm sure there is some degree of a placebo effect.... but there is something going on for sure. I dunno, there's no way to really describe or explain...
     
    #10 Naturegirl, Jun 24, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2006
  11. Black-Dawn

    Black-Dawn Well-Known Member

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    I think I also felt some slight boost in fat loss when I cycled my carbs by accident. Trying to repeat that caused huge cravings
    and I dropped it.

    I'm not saying macros are not important, I am saying
    that as long as your macros are "sane" it is not worth
    micro managing them (+5% protein, -5% carbs ect) with the hope of somehow greatly increasing fatloss on the same calorie
    defecit. It is a lot more important to find whatever macro ratio
    works for yourself and is easy to maintaine in the long term.

    If you are a competetive bodybuilder cutting before a show
    Then yeah you go the extra mile, But for the average guy or gal
    just find what "sane" macros work for you and stick with them.

    at least thats how I see it :)

    Now I am not you and can't presume what you think/feel/works for your diet. so please forgive my assumptions in the next few lines :)

    but from what you are saying here and in your journal it seems to me that your macros (low carbs/very low calories) are helping you keep focused/fight cravings and I think that helped
    your sucess. (vs the macros themselves made you lose a lot more fat vs same calorie diet with 40/40/20 for example)


    Shahar.
     
  12. Naturegirl

    Naturegirl Well-Known Member

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    It's okay Shahar :)

    The grammar was alittle funny in your last paragraph and I'm not totally sure what you were trying to say :p ( but hey I have crap grammar so I'm not one to talk) but yes, the reason why my cravings are pretty much non-existant for the most part as well as my appetite, is because besides the whole physiological effects that are happening to my body by changing what I feed it, I have never in my life lost this fast and it's very motivating. I've tried lots of different 'diets' with varying macro levels that were lower calorie, but there is something special to this one cause I see and feel fantastic results every single day. I feel results even in the moment. Also I have greatly lost the bloat that came with eating other ways. I look at my face these days and I'm like "Whoa, that's what I'm supposed to look like!" It's just different. Way different than anything else I've experienced.

    I dont want to become the poster child for low carb --- yes I believe it has always been the human specie's ideal diet, but all I know is, it works for me and has changed my life.

    But I agree again about the micromanaging thing. And whether 10% more or 10% less or what time you eat will make a difference I dont know. It seems to make a difference with me, but I can only speak for myself. When it comes down to it, you shouldnt let anyone else sway you from what you know works for your body. No matter how much of a nutjob you appear to sound like :lol:
     
  13. Black-Dawn

    Black-Dawn Well-Known Member

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    Yeah sorry about my grammar its 2am and maybe I should get some sleep. :)

    I'll sum what I am trying to say shortly:
    I think managing carbs intake does more harm/good on the
    mental aspect of dieting rather then the physiological one,
    and this is what ultimately translates into results.

    And yeah you should definitely do what is good/works for you.

    Good night.

    Shahar.
     
  14. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    Have to disagree with you there man. Naturegirl doesn't want to be the poster girl for low-carbs, and I don't want to be the poster guy. In fact, I'd be super thrilled with any effective diet that let me eat whatever carbs I wanted, whenever I wanted. But there aren't any effective diets that do that, and that's because managing and/or limiting carbs is probably the most important thing a diet does. A calorie deficit is the essential ingredient to weight loss, but it's not the only ingredient.

    You're right to argue against micromanaging, and I agree that the result is problems with the mental/control aspect. But there are non-emotionally scarring ways to manage carbs. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at anymore, except that its borderline absurd to scoff at any form of trying to time carbs as micromanagement, and unproductive to retreat to "you do what works for you, I'll do what works for me". Cheers for being successful at your efforts so far. If trying to time carbs would disrupt that progress, than stay far far away from it. But there are undisputable physiological benefits to doing it, and those of us who can discuss them without fear of a hair-pulling, progress annihilating dietary breakdown don't discourage that easily.
     
  15. guava

    guava Elite Member
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    I think you're onto something.

    I suspected at first that Naturegirl's rapid results were more due to the fact that she's eating at about an 700 calorie daily deficit than because of any macronutrient ratio she was following. It's interesting to hear that she's tried similar calorie results with less than stunning results.

    The psychological problems that may occur are dependent on what types of foods we consider essential. I'd scream and cry if someone took away my fruits and yogurts, but it doesn't bother me to go without bacon, cheese, beef, croissants, butter, etc. I'm convinced that this "carbohydrate addicts" diet would fail miserably for me, even though I believe that it's what made naturegirl's progress so phenomenal.

    Rather than science, our diet success is quite possibly directly linked to ensuring that we have plenty of our favorite foods in our diets, and that we feel good about the way that we are eating.

    Carbohydrates play an important role in the way that your body functions, and it would be unfortunate to manipulate your foods to negatively disrupt that functioning . We have not discovered whether or not this diet does that. It could do the opposite, and actually optimise your performance.

    I'm concerned about any diet that severely limits a certain food group, especially if it's a food group that has been proven to have so many health benefits. It seems to me that the body is meant to work in a certain way, and fighting against that way could be dangerous.

    But it's late, and I'm tired.
     
  16. Black-Dawn

    Black-Dawn Well-Known Member

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    guava :

    Thank you for articulating this better than I could.

    dodus

    I'm not saying managing carbs is not effective. I'm saying that I don't think its worth the effort to manage carbs beyond your "comfort zone" and that imho the benefits of managing carbs for fat loss(for the average joe) purposes are mostly a result of how they effect one's mental state.

    This is from the author of The Ketogenic Diet, Lyle Mcdonald.
    http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/Articles/calorieacalorie.html


    If low carbs help you directly or indirectly maintain low total calories for long periods of time do that. If you need moderate carbs to not binge do that. Just don't try to do something
    that would be extremely hard for you to maintain in the hopes
    of an extra 10% fat loss.

    * dodus I am also talking about avg joe/jane here. You at 10%
    body fat don't fit into that category :). Once I get there in a
    few months I'll see what happens in the last few % points.
    I have not been such bf% in my life so I have no frame of
    reference and don't know what works then.

    Shahar.
     
  17. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    I'm starting to suspect that there has been some kind of misunderstanding--maybe my earlier posts were a bit obscure in the description of this diet. This isn't really a low-carb diet. One following this diet can easily consume a day's worth (or two) of carbs at the appropriately titled Reward Meal. As far as I can tell, the scientific arguments that make sense in the book (as opposed to the ones that don't) are all about macronutrient TIMING, not AMOUNT. In my experience, timing plays the much more important role. I agree that living and breathing by a somewhat arbitrarily-set macronutrient breakdown is often more trouble than it's worth, especially if it means severly restricting or cutting out entirely an entire macronutrient group, no matter what the scientific justification. But timing, on the other hand, has repeatedly been demonstrated to be very efficient and in addition is very psychologically managable.

    Guava: I couldn't agree with you more that the most important factor in a successful diet (besides the obvious, that it's at least somewhat nutritionally sound) is that it's not psychologically unsatisfying. This is actually a very recent realization for me--after a year and a half of what I can only describe as "battling" with a super-clean diet, with lengthy lapses of not being happy with my results, not because my regimen wasn't effective, but because it was interspersed with unavoidable periods of binging (bingeing? i hate typing this word). The funny part is, I was excited when I came across this book because its based around this central principle. If you can eat your favorite food, or anything else you want within reason, at one meal every day, than the only deprivation occurring, both psychologically and physiologically speaking, is in the timing aspect, and that hardly seems unorthodox or even unreasonable.

    I guess I'm defending this diet, under the pretense of wanting to get feedback on it, because I want it to be a good idea. It seems simple enough, and adaptable enough to a more Berardi-style eating routine, and lax enough that I can't see myself wrestling with naughty cravings while on it. It's the scientific quality I'm questioning here. But guess we all defend the arguments that happen to support our personal preferences, which is why everyone comes out with both guns blazing whenever it seems like carbs are under attack :D .

    Black-Dawn: First of all, please don't think for a second that I'm implying that you personally are not working hard enough because you're not restricting carbs. That's not for me to say, nor would I want to if it was. About going beyond one's own "comfort zone", I agree and think that we're all kind of talking about the same thing, the importance of psychology in one's diet, which can't be overstated. The task is, how do we respect our comfort zone while manipulating efficiency. A balance must be struck. Obviously we could all benefit physiologically by never drinking a White Russian again, but what kind of joyless diet would call for such extreme measures (certainly not one I'll ever be on!)?

    Rereading your last post, it gets better every time. It's probably best and simplest to eat whatever we need to eat that allows us to maintain a caloric deficit without freaking out. Additional measures like timing and macronutrient percentages increase efficiency, but it's important that they don't sabotage sanity if employed over a long period of time. And BTW, there's no way I'm at 10%BF anymore. :mad:

    I don't know about that quote by Lyle MacDonald though. If he's saying what I think he's saying, that altering the macronutrient profile at any given caloric intake produces negligible results, than I've got about 18 months of counter-argument. Maybe the result is indeed "highly variable" among different people, but that doesn't mean for all intents and purposes, there's no difference between eating 2000kcal at 60C/30P/10F or at 10C/30P/60F. We can agree that macronutrients might be overemphasized, and that it is an overall good thing to trade efficiency for sanity, but to pretend that macronutrients have no effect whatsover is self-delusion.
     
  18. Black-Dawn

    Black-Dawn Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I think we got derailed a bit regarding low carbs/moderate carbs.
    while My understanding of all the processes regarding carbs/insulin and such is limited and I am afraid I have not been able to locate
    this diet book online, I can't see how if you eat a 3,000 calories dinner every day you are going to be losing weight.

    I don't know what is the amount of food one's body can accept in
    one meal, but I am pretty sure if I drank 1.5liters of cola
    and ate a 400grams bag of bagels every evening I would ballon up pretty fast.

    I read a diet research once where they allowed the subjects a planned cheat week. The subjects did not go all crazy and balloned up during that cheat week, rather they indulged a bit but maintained their weight.
    This sounds like the same but on a daily basis.

    Many dieters employ cheatdays/refeeds but because its planned and we have regular outlet for our cravings its controled.
    How many people here stuff 6,000 calories down every cheat day?
    Not many I think.

    Anyhow there is an easy way to check. :)
    eat over maintaince with this diet for 4 weeks.
    try to get 2000 calories at least every dinner, and we will see if you gain fat or lose fat. :)

    Shahar.
     
  19. guava

    guava Elite Member
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    I'm going to touch on this again, because I don't think I expressed the source of my concern. I understand that an insulin spike is not a good thing, but from my understanding, the best way to minimize the damage is to try to keep your blood sugar levels fairly stable throughout the day - eating small meals several times a day and keeping the glycemic load to a low level in each meal. The strategy you're talking about does the opposite, creating a larger insulin spike less often, and it intuitively doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Perhaps the glycemic index theories might best be left to their application for diabetics as intended, but I know this method has been shown to result in weight loss as well.
     
  20. dodus

    dodus Well-Known Member

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    This is the money question. Though, there's only so much food you can put away in an hour (the "limit" mandated by the authors of the book, who claim that continuing to consume food after this point will result in another insulin spike) before you get uncomfortable and don't really want to eat more of anything, no matter how delicious. There's also the fact that a meal like this every day is going to take most of the pizzazz out of cheating, so that its never going to be quite the freakout fest it used to be. As you put it here:

    Anyway, we're going to find out. I've been doing it since Saturday, and will assess results on Friday. Not a huge trial period, but I'll definitely be able to determine the effects on weight and lean mass. Note: So far, I haven't been able to put away much more than 12-1300Kcals at my cheat dinners. But we'll see what happens!
     

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