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Low Carb For “The Rest of Us”

September 14, 2012

Some of us have special dietary needs.  Some, like myself, discovered low carb living as a means of (literally) saving our lives and correcting long years of disfunction.  My diabetes, you could say, sort of forced the issue.

The results, if you don’t mind my saying so, have been nothing less than astounding.  After some fifteen months of my “new life”, my body continues to evolve in very surprising ways.  For one thing, I’m still losing fat (now 80+ lbs) and am probably down now to a little under 12%.  I’m also adding lean muscle at rates that are rather unusual for a 52 year old male.  With very little effort, I imagine that I’ll bottom out at around 8% body fat and, at that point in time, may have to re-evaluate what low-carb means for a (more-or-less) normal guy.

Since the effects of my diet are rather apparent to any who know me, I do get asked about what I’m doing….even by those without weight issues.  Which brings me to my point here:  what is a reasonable low carb diet for those who haven’t yet fallen off the metabolic cliff?

A number of experts might present differing points of view on this subject, but I think the answer is fairly simple.  The brain, as many readers will already know, is the only organ in the body that needs any glucose to function.  Generally, that tops out at a dietary equivalent of 120 grams per day.  Your body will accommodate lower amounts by manufacturing it’s own glucose, of course, and that’s exactly what’s required for those of us living in the 50-80 gram per day range.

The question, however, is why force your body to habitually resort to those alternative mechanisms if you don’t really need to?  A proper functioning metabolism seemlessly transitions between fuel sources, never exhausting a single pathway through overuse…the real problem with high-carb diets.  In fact, I do believe that there are lots of good reasons to use the carb-glucose-insulin process sparingly, but to recognize that its “there for a reason”.

If you choose to set a specific target/limit on carbs, then, 120 grams (more or less) is a good starting point and easily adopted for those without special dietary needs.  What’s 120 grams look like:

1.  Six slices of whole wheat bread, OR

2.  Six apples, OR

3.  Three cups of any grain or cereal (rice, quinoa, pasta, beans etc.) OR

4.  Three sodas

More reasonably, you’ll want to include some veggies and a little fruit before getting to the “high ticket items”, however.   A daily approach to this might include the following:

A couple of cups of broccoli (12 grams), 1/4 cantaloupe (11 grams), a nice salad or head of romaine (8-10 grams), an apple (20 grams), 1/2 cup of almonds (6 grams), and a handful of snacking carrots (6 grams), totalling 55 grams, still leaves room for a sandwich on two slices of bread (20 grams) and 1 cup of whatever grain with your dinner (40 grams), should you choose to do so.  Just remember, these “big ticket items” really add up quickly.

Enjoy – HT



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