WHAT’S WORSE? FAT OR CARBS?

I generally eat a low-fat diet, except that I do have a lot of salmon and sardines (in water; no salt added), which are rich in unsaturated fats and omega3 fatty acids, which protect the heart.

I don’t subscribe to Atkins no-carb diet.  I DO avoid simple carbs (white bread; “wheat” bread; white rice; added sugars to almost all prepared food).  I do eat LOTS of complex carbs (sweet potatoes with skin on; brown rice).

How to determine which are complex carbs?  Choose the ones with a low glycemic index – they raise blood sugar less rapidly.  For a list of carbs and their glycemic indices, see the South Beach Diet listings.

One point is crucial:  a meal that produces a rapid, high rise in blood sugar also increases insulin.  Then your sugar goes from high to low… the next time you eat, you’ll be hungrier and may eat too much.  And… if the first meal bumps your sugar high, the second meal, even if lower in sugars, will bump your blood sugar more than if the first meal was of low glycemic index.  See the chart below.  Eating simple carbs sets you up for failure and eating more later.

TIPS: Stop drinking soda and fruit juices.  Don’t eat products with added sugar or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  Read labels.  Prepare your own food.In fact, the work cited here suggests that saturated fats aren’t the culprit in heart disease; simple sugars are.  The NY Times Sunday magazine stirred up this debate back in 2002.  So, low-fat may not be the way to go if it means high-sugar.  Low-fat yogurt with fruit swimming in sugar at the bottom of the container is NOT healthy!

Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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