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The Great Diet Debates

Monday, July 15, 2013

I have tasked myself with a simple question: what is the optimal diet for me? The answer seems to be far more complicated and uncertain than I would've thought. If anyone has resources out there in the way of articles, books, or experts to consult, please do let me know!

I started out this reboot thinking I would try an awful crash diet called Ideal Protein. I asked for some input from the Spark People nutrition forum and I learned that this diet, which features expensive protein shakes and vegetables for a total of 800 calories per day, is dangerous to your health and not efficacious for weight loss because it cannibalizes muscle tissue. I quickly discontinued the diet and was left wondering, "what next?"

My search for the optimal diet is complicated by one major factor: I have high cholesterol that I would like to control. Even something as simple as this is fraught with controversy. There is so much contradictory information out there about how to control cholesterol. There's the mainstream view that a low fat, low cholesterol diet combined with exercise is the best way to control cholesterol. But then there is evidence that low carb, high fat diets also reduce cholesterol. These two recommendations are in direct conflict with each other, making it difficult for me to know what path to choose.

Here are some sources I have perused for cholesterol information and a summary of their conclusions:

1. American Heart Association

Low fat, low cholesterol. Limit saturated and trans fats.

2. Spark People

Low fat, high plant diet with exercise. BMI below 25.

3. About.com / Ronald Krauss study

Low carb, effectively high fat diet with weight maintenance.

As you can see, there's a lot of information out there to digest. For now, I have chosen a moderate carb, low fat diet. Basically, I will be following the Spark People diet with its default carb/protein/fat recommendations.

My doctor recommended that I limit saturated fat to 14 g per day (which is not easy), so I have used the "ADD MORE NUTRIENTS" tool on my Spark People nutrition tracker to set a ticker to 14 for each day. This is a very convenient way to view how much saturated fat I'm getting; I love this feature!

If this doesn't work for me, I will try low carb later. I will give Spark People and exercise 6 months to lower my cholesterol and weight. Then re-evaluate.

There's a lot of interesting discussion going on in this thread about low carb: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mys
ard=7&imparent=31425745 Definitely a hot topic!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Ugh, the Ideal Protein Diet! It's expensive and it doesn't really teach you how to adjust your lifestyle. Some doctors in this area promote it through their weight loss clinic, so at least people are doing it with medical monitoring, but I thought it was a terrible idea, too.

    I want to learn how to eat in a healthy way, not just lose weight. It is difficult to change from mindless eating to careful choices based on health needs! But we can do it.

    I lost 40 pounds doing low-carb, but wasn't able to sustain the lifestyle. Didn't gain the weight back, but stopped losing as soon as I stopped eating that way. It was mainly an act of desperation, because I weighed 320 pounds. It worked for me, but it's unbalanced.

    I'm still searching for the best way. I hope we both find what works best for us!
    1698 days ago
  • KENWANNE2013
    I think the key is to try and ensure that your crabs come from natural sources. I think generally low carb is ok short term so maybe think about using it to a. Kickstart your Programme b. as a way of shifting things when you plateau?
    1705 days ago
  • ENUFF81020
    I found that losing weight helped my cholesterol go down--and my healthy cholesterol to go up. I made good choices and stayed in my calorie range. I know this sounds too simple, but it did work for me.

    Keep asing questions like this... emoticon

    Gentle hugs,
    1705 days ago
  • LEWILL1982
    I would focus on real, non processed, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains. Steel cut oatmeal is good for lowering cholesterol. You might check out The Mayo Clinic online, they have great resources. Utlimately, find something you can stick with for life. I would say that cutting out carbs is unrealistic. Watch the saturated fats, focus on healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, salmon, etc. Visit a farmers market in your area if you have one, try a new vegetable or fruit, ask the vendors for recipes. I think SP is a great place to be and will be able to offer you alot of insights. A mediterranean diet can also be a great heart healthy diet. Good luck, it can be complicated but once you figure it out, so worth it!
    1709 days ago
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