General Diet Plans and Questions - Calling non-low-carbers!

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08-12-2011, 03:19 PM
I don't know if we really are a minority, but it certainly feels like it! So this is a thread for people who are deliberately consuming an average to high proportion of carbohydrates. There are entire forums here dedicated to low-carbing, after all, so it seems reasonable to have a thread for the alternative approach.

I never even really considered going low-carb because I need to eat complex carbs regularly on doctor's orders to help with blood sugar and PMDD, plus veganism and low-carbing don't really mix. I applaud people who decide to eliminate sugars from their diet, but as a general thing I don't have a problem with nice healthy wholegrains. Many people thrive on them, plus there's oodles of research into how beneficial they are for many things including weight loss. I do find it a bit frustrating that both sugars and wholegrains get lumped together as carbs and therefore bad, when they are so completely different in how they work in your body. (For most people, at least. I have run across a few people who report that wholegrains will cause a blood sugar spike and so forth as bad as pure sugar, but I think they're a small minority, and nutritionally there's certainly a huge difference.)

My macronutrient ratio is currently about 20% fat, 18% protein, and 55% or so carbohydrates, though once I have my gall bladder removed I will be able to add back more fat. I eat minimal sugar, pretty much the odd tiny piece of dark chocolate and some fruit, and the grains I eat are almost always wholegrains. Oats for breakfast in the form of porridge, lunch will sometimes involve grains in the form of red Thai rice/tofu/veg in miso soup, a vegetable and pulse soup with a slice of wholemeal bread and almond butter, sometimes a pepper stuffed with corn and beans, though I do sometimes put a tin of chick peas and/or some tofu into a vegetable salad and not have any grains. Supper is usually something with wholewheat pasta or brown jasmine rice. Lots of vegetables and a fair number of pulses, of course. I do much better on wholegrains than I do on white carbohydrates, though it's taken a bit of hunting to find types of rice other than white which I actually enjoy.

Am I the only person who genuinely does not find that protein is more sustaining or what have you than carbs? I've tried almonds, I've tried adding a scoop of protein powder to my porridge (which I still do anyway, apparently protein is good for ME/CFIDS), I've tried all sorts of things, but I don't find it makes any difference, and it's really wholegrains that make me feel the fullest and give me the most energy. I'm still eating protein, of course, and I try to get a reasonable amount of it, but I've never noticed it doing anything special for me.

I did look into the MacDougall diet, but I wasn't keen on his demonising of fats, and some of the articles he writes are distinctly iffy. Ironically, now that I am dealing with gallstones I pop into the site every now and again for recipes, as I'm having to keep my fat levels low whether I like it or not. I know MacDougall and the Eat to Live diets are unusually high in carbohydrates, though, so you are all very much welcome to post here.

I'm interested in hearing from people who simply follow the usual recommended macronutrient ratios (, people who are eating MacDougall/ETL style, people who tried low-carb and found it didn't work for them, and hey, if you're actually managing to lose weight with a high proportion of unhealthy carbs in your diet then I'm dead curious to know how you're managing it!

08-13-2011, 12:30 AM
I don't know that I exactly fit into this... I'm not purposefully avoiding carbs. Nor am I only choosing carbs (that'd be silly), but they are definitely the majority of my consumed calories. Usually around 50% or so when I work out the numbers.

I guess my focus for carbs is to choose complex ones as often as possible. To stick to fruits, vegetables, whole grains, brown rices. But, I haven't eliminated sugars, either. Nor am I looking to do so at this moment. I'm not talking about eating sugar out of a bowl, but (for example) my organic yogurt has sugar and fruit mixed in. However, I'm not going to lie! I do eat desserts a few nights a week. I have mini ice creams and snack bars. They might be lower calorie, but they still have carbs/sugar in them.

Then again, I have a focus for fats and protein, as well, so it's not as though I'm only watching my types of carbs and nothing else. I try to make sure the fat I'm choosing is unsaturated, or comes from healthy oils or nuts. I try to make sure the proteins I choose are fairly lean. I'm trying to add in a little more protein to my days, but some of the proteins I choose naturally come with carbs (beans, edamame, tofu) so... there it is!

I know there are plenty of people around 3FC who find they function better cutting out sugars and many carbs, but I would feel incredibly deprived to cut them out.

So far it's working well for me!

08-13-2011, 04:29 AM
I love my carbs! Carbs are what keep me going on my diet. I have had to learn to choose carbs wisely now compared to what I did to gain all my weight. Whole grain vs. white, complex vs. simple is what I have learned to do. I do avoid sugar though. I learned sugar is a trigger food for me and once I start eating it I can't stop and eat every thing in site.

08-13-2011, 05:49 AM
Lovely - that was exactly what I was talking about! I'm not just watching the carbs either, in fact I generally leave the percentage of carbs to its own devices and focus on the percentage of protein and fat. I'm careful with the quality of my carbs, but that's a different matter.

jnhu72 - I know what you mean about the sugar. I'm finding that if the sugar is in small quantities and is balanced out by other factors such as very strong flavours, it's easier to eat a small amount. The darker the chocolate, the less of it I want, for instance. Mind you, if something is too sweet I can't eat it at all; I always go for relatively mild satsumas over madly sweet mandarins, for instance. Maybe it's the nice bland middle ground that's the danger area for bingeing?

08-13-2011, 08:19 AM
Hi Esofia,
As you probably already know from the Vegetarian/Vegan forum, I am one of these high carbers :-). I'm currently doing McDougall, though my fat content sometimes reaches higher than McDougall suggests (10% or less is his suggestion). But my carb content is usually around 70-75%. So far I am enjoying the plan a lot, loosing weight, and feeling healthy. Had a blood test a few weeks ago and all is well, including blood sugar levels, which was one of my concerns with a high-carb diet, family history and my past binge-eating patterns which focused mainly on high fat and high sugar junk food.

I actually was a dedicated low carber several years ago, when I was still eating meat. I lost 35 pounds doing an Atkins-like plan but looking back at my menus, I realize I was doing a very very extreme version (I was at less than 20 carbs per day and less than 1200 calories per day). But I didn't sustain the loss or the plan, partly because I decided to go vegetarian and then vegan and, just as you mentioned, veganism and low carbing don't really mix. I ended up gaining not only the 35 pounds back but also getting back into binge-eating habits that put on an additional 30 pounds!

I just started back on McDougall on May 30 but I haven't been totally 100% on it so I've only lost about 8 or so pounds. But I've started to adhere more to it plus add some daily exercise and I know I'm looking and feeling much better. So it's a matter of time and perseverance :D.

One thing I discovered was that, for me at least, the low carb philosophy about how all carbs will spike blood sugar in a way to cause cravings and only protein and fat really fill you up were bogus. I don't find myself having many cravings eating a high-carb diet (I should mention that I eat whole grains only, no processed "white" grains but I do eat red potatoes once a day) and my protein level is at about 40 grams a day (very low for low carb standards) and my blood tests showed that my protein level was normal, so I'm not protein deficient. I don't doubt that many people don't do well on carbs, but I just found for me that as long as I stick with good carbs and stay away from junk food, carbs are just fine for me :D.


08-13-2011, 09:32 AM
I don't think I could completely eliminate carbs from my diet totally because they are too much a part of my culture. I'm part Italian so pasta, rice and bread are very much a staple of the diet. I will say that I've added a lot more protein into my diet because I was consuming way too many carbs at one point so I'd say that my consumption of (good) carbs is maybe like 40%; slightly less than average. Previously, it was probably close to 70% of my diet and my stomach paid the price - it was soft and pillowy, lol. That's what works for me.

08-13-2011, 09:43 AM
I eat low GI - no particular plan - just follow the advice in their books- all scientific basis - and they advocate a reasonably large amount of carbs by today's diet fashion.
BUT it all has to be Low Gi so the grainy the better for bread - pasta is OK, different kind of flour and processes, not short grain white rice, basmati is OK though, fruits and veggies and healthy, breakfast cearals ( not sweetened ones) and a sensible amount of dairy.

So, I can eat everal serves of carbs a day, eg : oats for brekkie, sandwich for lunch ,pasta for dinner - no problem with that! Some days I eat far less than that of course, but rarely do I not have at least 2 serves of bread, and a carb with dinner.

Their findings would tell you that low carb consumption is not necessary ( even not recommended) to loose weight.

To each their own way - this is mine.

08-13-2011, 11:04 AM
I've never worked out why white basmati is considered low GI where other white rices aren't. Does anyone know?

And yes, I've seen a number of articles saying that low-carb isn't recommended for weight loss, as it often works well initially but not in the long term. Admittedly there are articles out there saying just about anything about weight loss, but I think this school of thought is reasonably well-substantiated. Low-carbing is fairly new, after all, and I honestly don't know how it became the norm when it's still pretty controversial. If it works well for some people, great for them, but don't try to force it onto everyone!

08-13-2011, 05:39 PM
I've never worked out why white basmati is considered low GI where other white rices aren't. Does anyone know?

The GI (glycemic index) value is an objective measure (the procedure is described in many of the GI books). The why's aren't always clear. Why are sweet potatoes lower GI than white potatoes, or for that matter why is any food lower GI than another. It's a combination of factors and to some extent it just is what it is.

Fiber, fat, carb and protein content all affect GI. Some foods that seem very similar often have very different GI's. There's quite a a range between rice varieties, and between potato varieties for example). Basmati is a long-grained rice, and I have read that the long-grain rices tend to be higher in protein and fiber than shorter grains, so this would affect GI.

And yes, I've seen a number of articles saying that low-carb isn't recommended for weight loss, as it often works well initially but not in the long term. Admittedly there are articles out there saying just about anything about weight loss, but I think this school of thought is reasonably well-substantiated. Low-carbing is fairly new, after all, and I honestly don't know how it became the norm when it's still pretty controversial. If it works well for some people, great for them, but don't try to force it onto everyone!

Low-carb really isn't that new. Paleo diets tend to be rather low-carb (if you subtract the undigestible fiber carbs). So in that respect, low-carb dieting has been around for millions of years, and high-carb eating has only been around for about 15,000 years.

As a prescribed diet, low-carb dieting as a treatment for diabetes has existed for 1000 years or more. As a weight loss diet, it's been around for about 200 years or so, at least.

I've been against low-carb diets most of my dieting life (the last 40 years). I thought they were always, for everyone, even for diabetics extreme and dangerous, and I never gave them more than a very short-term attempt (as a crash diet, only following them for a few days or a few weeks until I would "come to my senses").

The biggest problem with modern low-carb diets, in my opinion is that many are low-fiber diets as well. Fiber is a carbohydrate, but it's an undigestible one, so the fiber calories don't ever get used or absorbed (by humans).

A good reduced-carb diet should be ridiculously high in non-sweet fruits and vegetables (where most of the calories are unusable, coming from fiber).

When my doctor recommended a reduced-carb diet, I thought he was insane. But I've found that I actually eat less meat, when I'm eating low-carb, because high-glycemic, high-carb foods make me ravenously hungry and I want to eat everything in sight. I eat more food, including meat on high-carb. When I was eating high-carb, I could and would often eat 8 to 12 ounces of meat at a meal and up to a pound per day.

Many people wouldn't consider my diet low-carb, because of all the vegetables and a few fruit (up to 14 servings per day), but if you counted only the digestible, non-fiber carbs my diet is far lower carb than the average.

I think the all-meat, all the time low-carb diets are extremely unhealthy, but I believe that low-grain, low-sugar diets can be extraordinarily healthy.

I don't think everyone needs a low- or reduced-carb diet, but I think that low-carb often gets a worse rap than it deserves, because it's so often misunderstood and misused.

Even Atkins, one of the most extreme low-carb diets, was never meant to be the all-meat diet. The book warns against bacon, sausages and cured meats and yet many people still choose to interpret the diet as the all-bacon diet. You're supposed to keep adding carbs until you find the point at which you stop losing, and yet many people instead decide to stay on induction (fewer than 20 carbs) until they can't stand it anymore, and then decide the diet is undoable (even though they never try adding the carbs, as recommended).

I also don't know that low-carb is the norm. It's popularity seems to wax and wane. In the 40 years of my dieting, I've seen low-carb dieting's popularity come and go. It either seemed that "everyone" was doing it, or no one was.
It was always seemed to be portrayed as either horrendously bad/evil or as the only way to go.

To me, it seems more controversial than ever, but maybe that's my perception because I'm now on the other end of things. Instead of criticising it (which felt like everyone else was for it) defending it has made me more aware of the arguments against it (especially since they were the words in my mouth only a few years ago).

I think whatever plan you're on, you become more aware of the arguments against it.

I do believe though that low-carb has lost popularity considerably over the past few years. At least here in the midwest. About six or seven years ago (when I wasn't following low-carb) you found low-carb products everywhere, and even stores devoted only to low-carb. Most of those stores have closed and most of the products have disappeared.

To me, it's frustrating because now that I AM watching carbs, the lower carb items are harder to find (except for the crap - candies and processed foods).

I'm still looking for a lower net-carb breakfast cereal that I don't have to order online.

I think the biggest problem with low-carb diets as they are commonly done, is that most are also low-fiber diets.

"My" style of low-carb is extremely uncommon it seems - extremely high-fiber, yet low in digestible carbs with only moderate meat consumption. I think that's because low-carb diets has traditionally appealed to people who like processed meats and dislike vegetables. Also many people don't consider high-fiber vegetables and fruit as truly low-carb, so the low-carb followers who eat a lot of nonstarchy veggies hasn't been the norm at all.

I've had so many people tell me that I'm "not really" following low-carb because of how many veggies I eat, that I tend to call my diet a "low grain" diet rather than a low-carb one.

08-15-2011, 07:52 AM
Bad you, eating all those veggies!

I think one of the problems with low-carbing is that it's very easy to do it badly. It appeals to people who want a quick fix, and it appeals to people who are seeking an excuse to eat unhealthily and preferably avoid vegetables as far as they can. So I suppose it's not surprising that there is a relatively high number of people eating a pretty unhealthy low-carb diet out there. I don't know how many diets have similar problems. Going for a wholefoods diet is less problematic, for instance, although if you think that switching to wholefoods alone will solve your weight problems, you can still gain weight due to excessive calories. And calorie-counting seems to attract a lot of people who are trying to starve themselves, or at least to eat far less than they should.

I was thinking of you as one of the people I know who is doing a low-carb diet healthfully and mindfully, in that you are following it because you have genuinely tried several options and found that it's the best for you, not to mention being under medical advice. I think there are a lot of people who don't really stop to think about all of that, they just grab a popular diet and hope that it will work for them. Especially when diets get a lot of hype, of course, and people are desperately wanting to believe that it will be a magic bullet.

I know what you mean about having to order online, it does get rather pricey and often inconvenient. Not to mention that I've just discovered that my pet health food shop, which does lots of different types of grains and such and has free (if slow) delivery, uses the notorious Goodness Foods/Direct as a supplier (google them and/or "Jesus Army" if you're curious). I really hope they can tell me which products they get from there so that I can avoid them, because otherwise I will have to find another health food shop to buy from, and damnit, I really like their Thai red rice and brown jasmine rice.

08-15-2011, 03:47 PM
I wish you luck with your health food store. I did google the information, and I can see why you wouldn't want to support their cause.

I'm struggling to find a good local healthfood store. When we had three or four local stores, prices and selection were good. One store has closed and the quality and selection in the remaining stores have plummeted, while prices have soared. More and more shelf space is being dedicated to the processed junk foods disguised as health foods because they're made with more exotic grains, but still deep fried and heavily salted (and sea salt is still salt).

'Bad you, eating all those veggies!

I think one of the problems with low-carbing is that it's very easy to do it badly. It appeals to people who want a quick fix, and it appeals to people who are seeking an excuse to eat unhealthily and preferably avoid vegetables as far as they can. So I suppose it's not surprising that there is a relatively high number of people eating a pretty unhealthy low-carb diet out there.

Absolutely! I think low-carb and calorie counting both have this pitfall. You can't really (in my opinion) call them a single diet, because the low-carber who is eating mostly bacon, bologna, hot dogs and eggs, is lumped in with the person who is eating tons of low-starch veggies and lean animal and plant proteins (most people don't even realize that there are vegetarian low-carb diets).

The same goes with calorie counting. The person eating 800 calories of twinkies and cheetos is lumped in with the person eating 1500 calories from a wide range of healthy lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Even exchange plans can be corrupted. Whenever I've wanted to try a different WOE (whether Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, Taube's, whole foods...) I have always tended to translate/convert the plan into an exchange plan (Because I've always needed the exchange plan to control portions and food jags as I can overeat ANYTHING).

Even if two people are on the same exchange plan (the same number of calories and exchange servings of protein, starch, veggies, fruit, fat, and dairy), they still can be on very different diets. One may be spending their exchanges on high-sodium processed foods, and another on lean, whole foods.

It's really hard to evaluate low-carb diets, exchange plan diets, and even calorie counting plans, if you don't know exactly what is being consumed.

When I was working, I had two coworker friends, one on Atkins and another on South Beach, and they would constantly bicker over which diet was better/healthier. What was funny to me, is that what they ate (and what they talked about eating) were practically identical. Both limited fruits and grains (and yet neither excluded them), they both were eating lean proteins and good fats.

I do think Atkins has more wiggle-room than South Beach (as a whole-foods diet, South Beach is a little harder to screw up - in my opinion).

I'm not a whole food's purist, because there are a few frankenfoods and lightly processed foods that I use (seeing them as the lesser of evils), but I definitely have a whole food leaning. But I also know that I can maintain my weight on a whole food diet (again because I can overeat anything, even fruits and whole grains).

A healthy diet really isn't all that complicated, but it's information many people don't have. At least here in the US, nutrition education is practically non-existent or virtually useless (it seems hypocritical for the schools to teach about proper diet and exercise and then eliminate P.E. and recess and serve high-fat, high-calorie, low-veggie meals in the school cafeteria).

08-20-2011, 11:41 AM
I'm vegan too! And I love carbs! I believe a high-carb diet is the healthiest and is what humans are meant to live on.
A low-carb diet helps lose weight because it cuts out breads, pastas, crackers, sugars, and other refined foods that many people snack on. Thusly, this cuts out a lot of calories.
But wholesome carbs from fruits, quinoa, millet, amaranth, brown rice, oats, etc. are soo good for you!

08-20-2011, 09:34 PM
I eat a good amount of not so healthy carbs. How well it works for me, we will see - I'm starting over after finally being able to nail down some health problems and figure out what is wrong with my body - I've had a pretty speedy loss for the first week - nearly 4 lbs, but I expect it to slow down starting next week.

Why I eat a good amount of carbs, and processed carbs at that, is different than most. After years of constant regurgitating (over 50-100 times a day - which I just assumed was normal - I guess everyone has their own normal), a doctor finally looked into some things, and we've discovered that I have a gastric emptying delay, severe reflux, and some esophageal problems. My food stays in my stomach for much, much longer than it is supposed to, and I have a very, very small stomach.

The reason my diet works is because while I don't eat what most would consider the 'healthiest' foods, I eat very small quantities and feel full. Now that I've realized that full doesn't mean that you keep throwing up in your mouth, and that I simply cannot eat like a normal person, I feel a lot better.

So I'm currently on the weirdest Dr's orders diet maybe ever. Most raw fruits and veggies are out because of allergies, no eggs, nothing high fiber or what most people would consider to be 'filling' foods, since they are just too much bulk for my stomach. My doc wants me eating processed carbs, small amounts of protein, and I'm allowed more than average fat, since I'm on a prescription pancreatic enzyme supplement that helps me to digest fat.

Contrary to what anyone thinks would be healthy, but it works for me.

08-24-2011, 05:39 PM
I keep my carbs at 40%, but if I don't get 20-30% from protein I really feel miserable...can barely finish my workouts, sore, can't make progress during strength training (which might be a pre-workout carb-loading issue). A couple of weeks ago I shopped poorly and ran out of protein sources early in the week and subsisted basically on carbs and fat without changing my sucked!

08-25-2011, 05:28 PM
I don't count my carbs. I make a point of having some fresh-baked bread every day--usually in the form of a take-and-bake roll. There's something intoxicating about the scent of it, about the taste of it. When I have it with dinner, it makes me look forward to the rest of the healthy food.

I couldn't do low-carb. I mean, I really, really couldn't. My food preferences are such that I can take or leave most proteins. When I was in high school, I was sometimes mistaken for a vegetarian, 'cause I'd avoid getting meat at fast food places. Not because it was bad, mind you, but because I didn't really like it all that much. I'm also not a fan of eggs--the only way I'll eat them is hard scrambled, and they have to be fresh off the griddle hot. Any runniness, and I balk. Until I discovered Greek yogurt, I wasn't a fan of yogurt, either. A low carb diet would just make me hate what I'm eating. It might work short-term, but I sure as shooting couldn't maintain on it.

That being said, I've found that, with counting calories, some carbs are often the first things to go. Since I can take or leave noodles and rice, I usually leave them both in favor of things that have more flavor. Ditto potatoes to a lesser extent. I also find that if I have a lot of carb-y food on my cheat day/meal, I feel kinda sick afterwards.

In short, you can have my fresh-baked bread when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. :)