Does it Work? Unsure if the latest product or service lives up to it's claims? From popular products to the latest scams, discuss it here before you buy!

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Old 09-28-2004, 03:27 PM   #1  
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Default *Be careful* Just wanted to pass this on

It should probably be over on the Atkins/South Beach board, but I thought it would be something good for EVERYONE to know.

I'm becoming addicted to reading labels. I even have my 6 yr old son doing it--hey, it's a math lesson too! And I'm noticing something very alarming--those low carb/no carb doo dads on the shelves have just as much fat, if not more than their regular carb counter parts.

I just thought ya'll might want to be made aware when you pass by and think 'oh, that's a good idea' BTW, our Walmart has ISLES of low carb stuff--so it's not like I accidently stumbled onto it...
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Old 09-28-2004, 03:48 PM   #2  
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You are SO right on about this! We went through this back in the 1990's with the low-fat and fat-free products. (rolling eyes)

Matter of fact, I posted a topic here in Buyer Beware about low-carb products back in January - you can read it here:

http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=34671

Here's the article that appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter:

Quote:
Low-Carb Foods: Less Than Meets the Eye

A few years ago the cry was "low-fat" or "nonfat," as new food products came on the market positioned to appeal to the weight-conscious and health-conscious. You could avoid most fat but still eat your ice cream and cookies. In some ways the trend to low-fat and fat-free foods was beneficial; in other ways it was not. Nonfat milk is a good thing, but nonfat junk food is still junk food, of course. Many consumers failed to notice that a low-fat cookie often has as many calories as the regular kind, and many assumed it was okay to eat the whole box.

Now the craze is for low-carbohydrate foods. If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, or even to McDonald’s or Blimpie, you’ve seen promotions for "low-carb" foods. Many breads, sandwiches, muffins, pasta, cereals, tortillas, pizza crusts, beer, cakes, cookies, and other foods now bear "low-carb" labels. While the health claims are seldom spelled out, the implications are clear.

If you’re following a low-carb diet (such as Atkins) that forbids or severely limits bread, pasta, and other starchy foods, especially those made with white flour, you might think, well, here’s a way to eat some bread and still stay on the diet. Indeed, many low-carb products are sold under the Atkins brand name. Or perhaps you’re not on any diet but are just calorie-conscious. You may conclude, logically enough, that a food lower in carbs is also lower in calories. Or you may buy the new stuff because you’re attracted to new products, and you think that there’s a law against false claims on food labels, so you conclude that low-carb claims must be (a) true and (b) meaningful.

In fact, "low-carb" is not what it seems. And any benefits these foods might offer for weight loss or nutrition are debatable, at best. If you replace carbohydrates with protein (that’s the main change), you still have just as many calories. Furthermore, the labels are, essentially, meaningless. The FDA has no definition of "low-carbohydrate" and has never approved any low-carb labels. Any food can be so labeled.

Bringing down the carbs

Here’s how manufacturers reduce the carbs in various foods:
n They replace refined wheat flour with soy flour (higher in protein), soy protein, or wheat protein.

• They add extra fiber, such as wheat bran, oat bran, or other fiber (this is not a bad thing, but read on).

• They add high-fat ingredients such as nuts (again, not so terrible: nuts are good food, containing healthy fats).

• They replace sugar with sugar alcohols (maltitol, lactitol, or sorbitol) or artificial sweeteners. This has been going on a long time—ever hear of sugarless or "dietetic" candy?

• For beers, they use certain chemicals in the brewing process to reduce carbohydrates in the brew. But the result is not very different from "lite" beers, long a market staple.

Is the difference real, though?

None of these changes are unhealthy. But these products end up having nearly as many calories as their regular counterparts, and cutting calories is still the key to weight control. Protein has as many calories as carbs do, and fat has more than twice as many calories.

The products often have nearly as many carbs, too, but the labels disguise this fact with several tricks. Most often they subtract certain carbs, and provide a separate section listing a lower number, which designates the remaining ones "effective carbs" or "net impact carbs." The idea is that since fiber, for instance, doesn’t affect blood sugar the way other carbs do, it doesn’t count. So if a food has 10 grams of carbs, but 6 grams are fiber, the manufacturer simply subtracts the 6 and claims only 4 "net impact" carbs. (Sometimes the results are clearly impossible. Some low-carb bread labels, for example, claim that nearly all the carbs are fiber, yet the first ingredient is always some sort of flour—a source of "regular" carbohydrates.) The calories in sugar alcohols, too, can be subtracted, according to this logic, because they don’t have the same effect on blood sugar as regular sugar. None of this is allowed by the FDA.

This sleight-of-hand can distract you from an accurate comparison between low-carb foods and conventional ones. Here are just three examples:

• A slice of "low-carb" Atkins bread, for instance, has 60 calories and 8 grams of total carbs, though it claims to have only 3 "net impact" carbs. A slice of a conventional "diet" bread typically has 50 calories and 10 grams of carbs. That isn’t a significant difference.

• A 1-ounce low-carb chocolate bar has 155 calories and 12 grams of fat, but no sugar; it claims to have only 1 "net impact" carb. A regular bar has 150 calories and 10 grams of fat. (Some choice!) Low-carb candies are actually pretty much the same as the sugar-free candies that have been on the market for years.

• A 12-ounce can of Michelob Ultra ("low-carb") has 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs. Miller Lite has 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs. Coors Lite has 102 calories and 5 grams of carbs. The differences are tiny. In effect, what’s new is the label, not the product.

No way to tell

Another problem: there is no legal definition of a low-carb food. The FDA has defined "low-fat," for instance, but any food, even Wonder Bread, can be labeled "low-carbohydrate." Moreover, fiber is supposed to be listed as part of the carbohydrates—not subtracted from it. The FDA does not define nutrients according to the effects they have on blood sugar, and for good reason. As we explained last month in our article about the glycemic index, these effects vary widely, depending on what’s in your entire meal. There simply isn’t any accurate way to calculate it for a food label. In any case, there is little or no evidence for the claim that some types of carbs are more likely to cause weight gain than others just because they affect blood sugar faster.

One good idea buried in the low-carb craze: It is better to choose high-fiber products over those made of refined wheat (white) flour. But that’s hardly a new idea. If you want more fiber in your bread, there are lots of good conventional choices, made of whole wheat or other whole grains, on the shelves.

Less costs more, and tastes worse

And then there’s the question of price. Low-carb almost always means high price. Low-carb beers cost more than lite. One low-carb breakfast cereal costs nearly four times as much per serving as regular cereals. Atkins breads cost twice as much as most regular breads. And most low-carb foods sacrifice a lot in taste and texture. (Not the candies, apparently, where chocolate flavors mask a lot.) Maybe this is a good thing—people will eat less of these foods, and the fad won’t last.

In the meantime, our advice: Don’t be fooled by low-carb foods. There’s no evidence that they’ll help you lose weight. They are not significantly more nutritious or less caloric than many regular foods. And they eat up food dollars better spent on plain good healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2004
Paraphrasing George W. Bush (or was it William J. Clinton who said this??) and no offense meant to ANYONE in particular - it comes down to this: It's the calories, stupid. Bottom line - it's the calories that count. They are all that count. That lesson was rammed home (to me anyway) back in the 1990s after I found out that eating fat-free everything wasn't working...once bitten twice shy.
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Old 09-28-2004, 03:59 PM   #3  
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I just came across an article that fits right into the discussion:

Quote:
Are pricey low-carb foods worth it?
Any calorie savings are small compared to cost

By Karen Collins
Updated: 2:07 p.m. ET Sept. 27, 2004

Based on the success some people are experiencing with low-carb diets for weight loss, at least in the short-term, many have come to assume that foods low in carbohydrates are also low in calories. That’s not necessarily true. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy weight comes from calorie consumption that matches the calories you burn.

Foods labeled “low-carb” are not necessarily lower in calories than “regular” versions. For example, ice cream labeled “for use with low-carb diets” often contains 130 to 150 calories in a half-cup serving, which is the same as regular ice cream. People who think that this “diet” ice cream allows larger portions will find themselves in real trouble. Light ice cream, on the other hand, truly is lower in calories.

A typical low-carb brownie mix produces a brownie with virtually the same calorie content as regular versions. It just costs more than four times as much. If you make a pan full of low-carb brownies, are you really going to eat just one? Unless you are preparing food for a party, a smarter way to satisfy a desire for something sweet or chocolatey might be to buy one small brownie or cookie from the bakery rather than having 1500 calories of low-carb brownies sitting around.

Many consumers hearing only half the message
Some foods that are naturally low in carbohydrates have suddenly developed an undeserved reputation as low-calorie foods. Most of the low-carb diets now officially advise that protein foods be eaten only in amounts to satisfy hunger, and some even specify that lean meats should be chosen instead of fatty bacon and sausage.

Many consumers seem to hear only half the message, and have developed the idea that these diets allow endless portions of fatty meats. These meats may have zero carbohydrates, but eight to ten-ounce portions that contain 600 to 1000 calories are not likely to promote long-term weight control for most people. In fact, one skill that most people need to develop so they can maintain a healthy weight is learning to follow hunger signals rather than eating the whole portion they are served or what is available.

Low-carb, not low-calorie
Likewise, oils contain no carbohydrates, but eating too much fat used in cooking or flavoring food (such as salad dressing and dip) allows calories to add up quickly. Some added fat is a healthful part of balanced eating, especially when it is in the form of oils like canola and olive oil. Just keep in mind that each tablespoon of oil adds 120 calories to your daily total. Nuts may be lower in carbs than potato chips or pretzels, but with 140 to 160 calories in a handful, you can’t afford to mindlessly munch your way through a whole can. Nuts can help in weight control because they may satisfy hunger longer than the same amount of calories from refined carbohydrates like chips or sweets. But portion control of nuts is vital.

Calorie savings small compared to cost
Finally, some low-carb products may be truly lower in calories than regular versions. The calorie savings may be relatively small, however, compared to the extra cost of these products. For example, low-carb tortillas or flatbreads for wraps may contain only 40 to 60 calories per ounce instead of the 68 to 72 calories per ounce in a regular tortilla. Does that make them worth twice the price? Instead you could choose a healthful whole-grain “regular” tortilla and save calories by limiting yourself to one, while enjoying additional servings of beans and veggies or a salad instead of eating another tortilla.

Turning to low-carb candy as your reward or for stress relief may save a few calories, but is it worth the extra money? If part of your weight problem is eating too many sweets, it might be more helpful to focus on learning non-food ways to cope or celebrate instead of relying on these products.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6083268/

I'm appalled at the aisles and aisles of processed low-carb crap that the food conglomerates are trying to push down our throats in the name of being "healthy". It's simply a marketing opportunity for the corporations --after all, they're not profiting if we eat an apple or a chicken breast or carrot. Nope, they're trying to make us buy and eat more food than we need AND food that's unhealthy to boot.
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Old 09-28-2004, 06:21 PM   #4  
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I'm SO sorry! Perhaps I should have gone further back and commented on THAT thread. LOL
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Old 09-28-2004, 06:36 PM   #5  
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No worries. Not everyone has time to browse thru pages of posts!!!
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Old 09-29-2004, 07:54 AM   #6  
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Rofl
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Old 09-29-2004, 09:35 PM   #7  
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Totally agreed! Calories in vs. calories out! Simply put, anyone who is weight-conscious should not be eating icecream, candy or cookies all time time, if at all, these things should be kept to strict moderation. Breads, pastas etc. are okay, best to stick to multigrain bread and multigrain pasta. All are yummy. Also best to have as much unprocessed stuff in your diet as possible: Fruits, bread, fish and meat.
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Old 10-01-2004, 11:21 AM   #8  
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I hardly ever buy the low carb foods. I found the taste is not to my liking. I can choose the foods that are lower in carbs (such as most veggies, etc). I do like Atkins Endulge peanut butter bar, but only have it when I have a craving for something sweet, which is not often. It seems to taste better than the other lowe carb bars.
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Old 10-01-2004, 12:21 PM   #9  
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Health Canada will be banning low-carb labelling starting next year for big companies and is 2007 for small companies.

Here is a link brought to you from the folks at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/food/foodlabels.html

Cheers!

Ali
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:38 AM   #10  
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Hey, I was just thinking about something....have you noticed that the low fat packaging is green? Any logic behind that?
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Old 10-04-2004, 11:02 AM   #11  
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I've thought about that, too I think they do testing to determine the psychological effect of various colors on us and our shopping habits. Green means healthy, apparently. Green=grass=vegetables=nature=good for you, perhaps? Maybe we are programmed to believe that being green means being kind to the environment, so maybe it's being good to ourselves?
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Old 10-04-2004, 09:23 PM   #12  
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One thing to be aware of too, is Dr Agatstons (author of South Beach Diet) deal with Kraft foods. Kraft, among other food processors are paying big bucks to have the Atkins or South Beach Diet 'brand' on their food labels.

All very cunning really - and a bit of a sellout by Agatston. Whenever I see a low-carb, low-fat, low-whatever food - I think "what did the food processing company do to make this food like this? ..... what chemicals did they put in? What nutrients did they take out?"

In fact before I get too started, I attribute a lot of the cause of obesity to be from food companies manipulating whole foods.... anyway thats another story.
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Old 10-04-2004, 09:32 PM   #13  
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As a SBD'er, I'd be curious what products come out of the Kraft deal. Of course, me being an optimists, hopes that there will be new products that are low fat, no sugar but not with tons of the same stuff that is put in low carb products.

Currently, foods on the market are either low fat with tons of added sugar or low sugar with tons of added fat. Products that concentrate on truly being "healthy" would be nice.
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Old 10-04-2004, 10:08 PM   #14  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJimBoy
Whenever I see a low-carb, low-fat, low-whatever food - I think "what did the food processing company do to make this food like this? ..... what chemicals did they put in? What nutrients did they take out?"
Excellent point! It's gotten to the point now where I can 'taste' the processing
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Old 10-05-2004, 06:52 PM   #15  
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I used to eat a lot of protein bars. But after examining them the ingredients... hmmm.

A simple rule - the more natural the better.
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