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Thread: Diet: low carbs + high protein... why? ideas?

  1. #1

    Diet: low carbs + high protein... why? ideas?

    so I've heard the notion of high protein & low carb diets from a few different sources (lar, etc)... can someone explain why, particularily in relation to SCI / exercise / health / recovery?

    one reason... back in the *ahem* good ole' days, I used to be pretty active w/ swim team & other sports... consuming carbs was always something we did before swim meets (e.g. decent amounts of pasta, etc)

    now I'm a bit confused... why lay off the carbs? simply b/c our bodies aren't nearly as active?

    I know this is the basis of all that Atkins diet stuff... just not sure where it comes into play w/ us SCIers.

    ~ scott

  2. #2
    I read Dr. Atkins book and considered going on the diet and decided against it. The diet is, in reality, low carb, high saturated fat.

    I think the best advice would be to minimize white flour, sugar, starch from your diet. Atkins does not even come close to the daily recommended allowance of fiber needed in your diet. Also, I believe it teaches some very bad habits. For instance, it keeping with the Atkins diet, you are required to keep the skin on your chicken, you are not suppose to drink soy milk because it has too many of those nasty carbs. Bananas are tabu (too many carbs) as are grapes and many other healthy foods.

    I believe we need to stay away from processed foods and eat a high fiber, low "bad" fat diet.

    BTW, of friend of mine did Atkins and had to stop because her cholesterol skyrocketed to over 300.

    There are not no magic bullets. ... Just my opinion

  3. #3
    thanks guys... I kinda need to clarify my question. I'm not looking for a weight-loss diet; that was just a reference. What I'm trying to figure out is the reason behind statements like this (from another thread re: exercise):
    One thing to keep in mind as well. At least two of us quad boys at NI are on high intake protein diets (well at least that's what we're telling each other). Your diet is a huge part of this as well. Get rid of the simple sugars(ie Snickers) and carbonated drinks (man . . . sometimes I just gotta have my visit to the Dr.. . . Dr. Pepper that is.)
    I pulled the fact about carbs from other things I remembered... but in terms of exercise, etc.... what's the basic (medical, physiological, etc) behind this idea?


  4. #4

    I think it has to do with the elimination of processed, low-fiber carbs... the white stuff ... or simple sugars, as you said.

    In all fairness, Atkins does encourage elimination of these kinds of foods and has helped a lot of people lose weight and change some bad eating habits. The diet also encourages eating lots of veggies (but not carrots or corn or anything high carb, of course).

    My beef (no pun intended) with the diet is it's lack of fiber and high content of saturated fat. Atkins is not presented as a short-term weight-loss diet, but as a life-long change in eating habits.

    Of course, I'm no expert. With so many conflicting studies out there, I think we need to use our best judgement and common sense.

    [This message was edited by Jan on 06-16-03 at 02:58 PM.]

  5. #5

    My thoughts were exactly the same as yours. From the time I was 8 years old I was pushed on carbs the night before a big event. The reasoning . . it builds up glucose levels to burn during the event as fuel. Good advice for short term use. But not long term.

    In any strength training program, SCI or not, you are attempting to build lean muscle mass (ie you're trying to lower your body fat ratio). In order to do that you need protien. If you are in a demanding workout regimen . . . you need lots of protien. Remember, when strength training you are tearing down muscle and building it back up . . . this requires protien.

    A high protien diet mixed with carbs from LOTS of green veggies (source of carbs and FIBER) gives you a good balance. You have enough carbs to burn off at a regular level without the highs and lows of carb loading, and not so many carbs that you end up storing them as excess glucose which turns into fat.

    And this brings up the idea of simple sugars . . . avoid them as they create excess glucose, messes up your burn off rate, and provides empty calories. Meaning you are working twice as hard to burn off fat.

    When I've discussed my diet I am not talking about a traditional Atkins diet. I am talking about lots of lean meat (fish, poultry, and lean red meat), protien supplement drinks, protien bars, AND LOTS OF GREEN VEGGIES. Also, I do eat a moderate amount of carbs on the weekend, when I add pasta to my dinners. But I do so knowing its about to get burned off during my weekly exercise program.

    In addition I also take a magnesium supplement and multi-mineral supplement to assist in recovery from the workouts.

    BTW: Fruit is good. Mellon in particular . . . lots of good minerals.

    At the end of the day my goal is to gain weight through increased lean muscle mass, decrease body fat, and increase energy levels.

    To date I weigh about 5 pounds heavier, have lost 3 - 4 inches off of my waist and my energy levels are much higher. Oh and my fiber intake is higher than ever by increasing the amount of veggies I'm eating, which works to cleanse the system.

    As with any change in nutrition, be smart, do what works for you, be consistent, and make sure you are incorporating an exercise regime into your daily activity

  6. #6
    I don't have any scientific evidence to offer other than it works for me. I have had a high protein/low carb diet for 4 years now. I've been injured nearly 2 years.

    This diet combined with a consistent weight training program has provided excellent results for me. I'm not fanatical about carbs but I don't eat pasta's and I try to limit my carbs as the day goes on. I start with carbs in the morning for energy, have limited carbs with lunch and try to eat no carbs after 6:00 PM.

    My strength and energy are up and my body fat stays way down.

  7. #7

    I agree with everything you've said.

    Would you also agree that whole grains like wheat, bulgar, barley and brown rice along with legumes like beans and lentils are also a healthy part of a balanced diet?


    I like your idea of consuming most of your carbs early in the day. My sister has also started doing this and it seems to be working well for her. I wish my family wasn't so picky. It's hard enough coming up with a dinner every night that pleases the kids and hubby... let alone eliminating carbs. Guess it's time to be a little more creative.... and a little less accommodating.

  8. #8
    awesome... thanks all, this is the info I'm looking for... I have stuff to do tonight but I'll post questions later when/if they come to mind.

  9. #9
    Originally posted by Jan:

    Would you also agree that whole grains like wheat, bulgar, barley and brown rice along with legumes like beans and lentils are also a healthy part of a balanced diet?

    Beans and lentils are great . . . good source of protien and fiber.

    Whole natural grains are also fine, but not necessary if you are consuming the right vegetables, which allows for better glucose storage. And if you're bent on rice . . . definitely choose the long brown rice to avoid the starches. And if you are like me and need your bread . . . get a multi-grain bread . . . NO WHITE BREAD (full of starch and processed sugar).

    As a snack when I get hungry I also keep a healthy supply of raw nuts handy (not processed).

    Important Point: Get fiber in your diet regardless whether you are on a high protien intake or otherwise. This is particularly important for folks with SCI who have bowel management issues.

    ALSO IMPORTANT!!! Make sure you throw in a nice big juicy cheese burger every now and then just to make sure you're not becoming a fanatic.

    Recipe idea: tried this last nightand itwas great.

    I broiled a couple of chicken breasts andthen cut them into cubes.

    i then took a can of stewed tomatoes, a half cup of black olives, a 1/2 clove of garlic (minced), and about 3 cups of artichokes and simmered them together for about 15 minutes. I then took the chicken a poured it into the sauce and let simmer on low for another 15 minutes - stirring occasionally.

    I then cooked up some asparagus and green beans in the frying pan using virgin olive oil for my veggies.

    And then we had some melon on the side as desert.

    This was so good even my wife liked it (she's not thrilled with my anti-pasta - no potato stance).

    [This message was edited by larwatson on 06-17-03 at 01:03 PM.]

  10. #10
    [QUOTE] Whole natural grains are also fine, but not necessary if you are consuming the right vegetables, which allows for better glucose storage.


    I'm sure you're diet is a lot better than most others in this country. I think you and I are pretty much on the same track with one exception. I think we need a good balance of all foods, including whole grains. I believe strongly in Balance (my mantra not only with food but with Life-in-General)

    I believe we need to eat fruits and veggies of all colors, along with whole grains. All of these foods are different and have unique properties. For instance, carrots and other orange/yellow veggies contain carotene, thought to prevent certain types of cancer. The red skin on tomatoes has unique antioxidant properties. Whole grains and soy are good for thyroid health. Oats can actually reverse high cholesterol. Whole wheat/ wheat germ is thought to help prevent colon cancer. The red skin on grapes has unique properties that ward off heart disease. Berries are helpful for urinary tract health.

    I remember many years ago I read that mushrooms have no nutritional value. Now, studies suggest that mushrooms have cancer-fighting properties. Foods have even been linked to certain types of cancer - for instance, carotenes have been found to inhibit Squamous Cell Carcinoma in cell culture.

    I'm probably a little sensitive about the issue of whole foods and cancer, since the disease has had such a profound impact on my family. But I do believe a balanced diet is best. So many of the diet plans these days tend to eliminate an entire food group instead of eliminating only the bad stuff from each food group.

    Supplementation is good (and necessary in my opinion), but not as good as the real thing. In my mind, the more natural the better. Organic is even better. And homegrown from my own garden is best. And I also agree with you about increasing your protein consumption when trying to build muscle mass - I can actually feel the difference when I workout without having eaten enough protein.

    I'm going to try your recipe.... think I'll add a few capers for good measure.

    Will be going to the Neuro Institute next week.... Can't wait!!

    Best of luck, blueduck, let us know how it goes ( I have a blue duck by the way, her name is Kaori)

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