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FOR FUTURE REFERENCE – Low carb and low cal: not created equal

The Union staff

Just because a food is low carb doesn’t mean it’s low calorie. Since 1999, more than 1,000 new low carb products have been created to entice Atkins’ dieters. The problem: besides paying a premium price for low carb fare, the customer may end up consuming more calories.

Remember the fat-free craze? Consumers freely ate unlimited quantities of snack foods advertised as fat free – and were surprised when they gained weight. Although the food was fat free, overall caloric consumption increased because of the additional calories from sugar.

Independent of the latest diet fads, two facts remain unchanged. First, to your body, a calorie is a calorie. It doesn’t matter if the calorie comes from fat or sugar, from a high carb or low carb food, from fruit or a brownie. Secondly, if you consume more calories than you expend, you gain weight. Conversely, if you consume less, you lose. So even if you stick with low carb foods but take in more calories than your body consumes, you will gain weight.

Whether a low-carb diet is a successful long term weight-loss strategy remains unclear. What is clear is that managing caloric intake – both for Atkins’ fans and South Beach dieters alike – is essential for reaching and maintaining appropriate weight.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health. June 2004. Vol. 16, #6

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