You Don’t Have to Go Keto Or Give Up Carbs to Lose Weight, Says This Expert
Everyone is confused about carbs That's the conclusion of keto thought-leader and best-selling author, Dr. Eric Westman, who has written a book to clear up our misconceptions about how to lose weight and still eat carbs: End Your Carb Confusion: A Simple Guide to Customize Your Carb Intake For Optimal Health (coming out December 15th). He teamed up with Amy Berger CNS to teach us how to use carbs to fuel our healthy bodies and reach our weight loss goals, without having to worry about ketones.
Dr. Westman is an obesity doctor and expert who has helped patients lose over 26,000 pounds, at his Keto Medicine Clinic at Duke University and helped patients reverse conditions like type 2 diabetes, PCOS, high blood pressure, and more. He shares his advice here, and it's super simple. We each have an individual tolerance for carbs, but everyone should give up sugar.
"Each individual has a carb threshold," explains Dr. Westman. It's knowing yours that is the key to unlocking your healthy weight loss as you allow healthy whole-grain carbs into your diet," he says. He adds that the keto diet is not unhealthy in itself, it's how you go keto that poses a potential health risk. "Eating carbs, in the form of vegetables and fruits, is actually healthy for you and allows you to get essential nutrients your body needs," Dr. Westman explains. "When the keto diet really took hold, there was a wave of information and, sadly, misinformation out there, and folks got confused and stopped eating carbs."
No need. The aim of Dr. Westman's new book is to put to bed the confusion about carb consumption and how to eat carbs the right way. In End Your Carb Confusion, the authors share a time-tested & science-backed strategy where they explain how to find the level of carbohydrate intake that's right for each individual.
How to Find Your Carb Threshold
"I've been known for my work in low-carb diets and was actually one of the early researchers who started working with Dr. Atkins when he was first studying the best way to help people lose weight, even before the Atkins Diet was published. We published it and then I taught in 18 countries. I have also studied a low-glycemic diet and a low-fat diet. It's great to see keto become so popular. The whole low-fat tend made a lot of things worse, since we now know that it's not fat that's the problem, it's sugar.
So basically everyone got the message that carbs are bad. But how low on the spectrum do you have to go? If your metabolism is okay, you can eat more carbs, or if you're young and super active and don't have a case of diabetes, high blood sugar, or metabolic syndrome, you can tolerate carbs. These are conditions keto is great for.
But there is going to be a limited audience for those who even consider doing keto. We wanted to take a broader audience who might not want to do keto because they have to give up bread and pasta etc. Instead, I want to teach them that carbs are not the bad guy, Sugar is the bad guy. The other common-sense thing to realize is that we are all different when it comes to what works. Think about it: We all have relatives and friends who can eat carbs, so why is that. So hopefully it will explain the obvious that there are a lot of people eating carbs and they're healthy.
There is one common fact across diets: Cut out added sugar and processed foods.
A study by David Ludwig, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Christopher Gardner, Ph.D. professor of Research Medicine at Stanford University, found that the biggest difference in low-fat versus low-carb diets among individuals is not only the food but how the person burns it off. The more processed food someone eats, the more they stores that energy as fat. Whereas when they eat fat they burn it off. "A diet high in processed carbohydrates directs the body to store more calories as fat, rather than using the energy to support body functions," their study found.
"I don't think everyone has to do keto to lose weight," said Dr. Westman, "but here is the knowledge I have from decades of doing research on the commonality of all diets that are healthy: You want to eliminate refined sugar or refined starches like bread, pasta, white rice, and all processed foods. You want to eliminate things made in a factory: like Cheetos and candy bars." Other than that, individuals have to find their own tolerance for the whole-food carbs they eat, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables, he adds.
Dr. Westman offers guidelines to proceed with caution toward whole foods that drive up insulin. "I don't push fruits or some vegetables (like potatoes), and that has been a cause for some consternation among those who are looking for a low fat, healthy diet. You get all the nutrients you need on a low-carb diet. You can eat any kind of plant-based diet and have high fiber foods, but watch how much high-glycemic fruit you are eating in a day.
What I can give is the perspective from years of research is that a healthy diet is one where you keep sugar low. Eating an apple is fine, as long as your metabolism is normal. My brother can eat a lot of fruit, but I can't. What I have seen it in my clinic is that the diet that works for one person is not great for another. You will get some natural sugar in an apple, but keep in mind that a medium-sized apple has about 20 grams of sugar, so you may not want to eat five apples a day.
"We look at the context of an entire dietary pattern, exclusive of sugar, refined carbs or candy. But then you meet someone who can eat all carbs they want and stay slim. There are a lot of individual differences and the optimal diet for your health will depend upon matching the carbohydrate level to your metabolism. Now people think you have to moderate carbs more than you do fats, but that is a new view.
"The other part of the book is to make it simple, so we don't ask people to count the fiber grams and the sugars and the fat grams. I don't think there is a science to say you need to do that. There are a lot of ways to eat healthily and lose weight.
Sugar addiction is real, and like drinking, some people can do it without getting hooked
"Sugar addiction is real. A lot of people can eat sugar and drink alcohol but others can't," he explains. "I follow a low-carb diet because it's tasty and it works. The research showed me this. I have found that for some people it's harder to give up carbs than cigarettes. Sometimes I wish that sugar was smelly because that would up the pressure to not have it.
"I have seen people get bariatric surgery because they can't get rid of the sugar. I want people to get the message that losing weight is not about the fat you eat, it's about the carbs you eat. You don't have to do keto to be healthy in general. You just have to quit sugar."