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It’s one of those trends that took 30 years to catch on. The initial suggestion that cutting carbohydrates out of your diet could help you lose weight came from the book Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, published in 1972. Now it’s 2004, and most of my friends appear to be melting away before my very eyes!

These days, you can’t turn on your television without hearing something about low-carb diets. There are several variations on the theme, including the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, The Zone, Carbohydrate Addicts, Power Protein, and others.

Each of these diets (no breads, pastas, or desserts) has become extremely popular (and when we say popular … we mean POPULAR!) in the last year, promising followers quick weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. Many restaurants, including fast food joints have changed their menus to offer low-carb alternatives to traditional menus. Even Pepsi and Coca-Cola have brought low-carb sodas to the market. Grocery stores are stuffed with low-carb food, and farmers have developed the first low-carb potato!

Carb-counting is the hippest way to lose weight this year, but how does it work? According to the various diet programs, low-carb diets work because once the body reaches ketosis, or the stage where it has no quick-energy sources left to burn, it has no choice but to use the body’s extra stored fat.

As with any fad diet, there are lots of questions about how safe a low-carb diet really is. Can a diet that encourages you to consume large amounts of meats, eggs, cheese, and fat, but forbids eating many vegetables and fruits be healthy for you?

According to Dr. Janet Colson, a Middle Tennessee dietician, it’s not. “They aren’t healthy, but you do lose weight quickly,” she says. “The body was designed to have a lot of carbohydrates, some fat, and a little protein. A low-carb diet is an unnatural diet for our bodies. It’s easier for our body to digest and utilize carbohydrates. It’s like an upside-down diet.” / Issue 100 - September 7051
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