A Selective Carb Diet for Weight Loss

by Graeme Bradshaw, Naturopath and Homeopath

Diets Don't Work

The number-one complaint from people who go on and off diets is that with each diet, it is easier to regain the weight and harder to lose it. They are right. There is now clear evidence demonstrating that the body's response gets "stingier" with weight loss on each new diet. The crash diet approach ruins the metabolism and hormone balance, resulting in chronic weight gain. Sensible dietary and lifestyle changes, not a fad diet, are what you need for long-term success in weight management.

Low-Fat or Low-Carb?

You may have heard of how a low-fat or a low-carb diet may help weight loss. Our recommendation is, do not go on a low-fat and low-carb diet at the same time — it will not work! It is a recipe for failure. You will soon be binging as you'll need more fuel. And you need healthy fats and carefully-chosen carbs for a healthy metabolism.

Choose ONE style of diet: low and selective fat or selective carb. A selective-carb diet is recommended for most people, especially if the fat is on your belly, you crave sugary food or beer, you have diabetes, or are over 55. Most people have success with a selective-carb diet.

High cholesterol? Body-fat all over, not just the belly? Crave salt, spirits, and have cardiovascular risks like high blood pressure? Or do you exercise a lot? You should choose a very low and selective-fat diet, and get into or maintain an exercise programme if you do not exercise regularly.

If you are taking the low sugar/selective-carb approach, do use vegetable oils such as olive oil and ideally also include healthy oils such as flaxseed. Don't be strict on high-fat foods, such as cheese, eggs, and meat but be sure to eat quality fats. You need good fat to lose fat! Eat plenty of vegetables as filler; that way you will not feel constantly hungry.

In addition, make sure you have a healthy supply of omega-3, as this provides the kind of fat that your body needs to lose fat and maintain healthy weight. (This paradoxical concept will be explored in a future issue.) You can get omega-3 from fish oil (the best assimilable source), flax oil, or from some nuts. Two servings of deep-sea fish, which is high in omega-3, per week is the least you need.

Keys to a Successful Selective-Carb Approach

  • Very little sugar added to foods, no sugared soft drinks.
  • Low or no alcohol while losing weight. Eliminating two alcoholic drinks daily can eliminate over 70,000 calories each year, which is equal to around 9 kg of fat!
  • Much less reliance on starches to fill you up, filling with vegetables instead.
  • Breakfast? Yes! Missing breakfast will cause you to crave sugars later in the day. Eggs are a good start on most low-carb menus – e.g., try a Spanish omelette.
  • Take lots of fibre – fruit (kiwi, berries) and vegetables (four servings = four cups daily). The fibre is filling and slows the release of food from the stomach, and is thus more satisfying.
  • Exercise four hours per week all year-round. The single common attribute of long-term weight loss success stories is a maintained exercise programme.
  • Refer to food charts to discover the best choices for selective-carb/low GI/wheat-free foods and really come to understand sugars, fats, and the GI of foods. You can also learn some healthy eating and exercise tips.

Common Blocks to Success

  • Too many low-quality carbs, which cause more craving for sweet foods. But don't let carbohydrate levels fall too low — you need around 30 grams of healthy, slow-release carbohydrate at each meal, otherwise, sooner or later you'll binge to make up the difference.
  • Try a wheat-free diet if you are not getting anywhere, and follow it carefully for a month. A wheat allergy is commonly a block to weight loss.
  • Detoxification or hormone balancing are the next methods to look at for a breakthrough if this fails.
  • Take our questionnaire to identify possible medical reasons for your weight gain.

Other tips

  • Eating the biggest meal late for dinner has been shown to cause more weight gain, despite claims by many nutritionists. Have a light dinner by 8 pm.
  • The main meal should be lunchtime. For weight loss, let your lunch be made up of proteins and vegetables. Oil dressings are acceptable on salads.
  • A real breakfast is essential.
  • Omit added sugar as much as possible.

IMI recommendations

  • Check for the possibility of allergies.
  • Kick start your weight loss with our 10-Day Detox programme, and remove your food cravings that way too.
  • Learn more about the Glycaemic Index.