Which diet is better? A low carb, high protein diet like Atkins or South Beach? Or a high carb, low fat diet–the type pushed by the sponsors of the food pyramid? Well as far as weight loss is concerned, you know my opinion–calories are calories. So, either way, you’ll gain weight if your calorie intake is greater than what you burn.
But one thing we know for certain: Diets that are higher in carbohydrates seem to fare better for those involved in intense mental activity. And now we’ve got further evidence. Recent research shows that, although both low carb, low fat and high carb, low fat diets help people lose weight, the latter will actually help increase cognitive processing. That is, high carb diets help the brain work faster.
Yup, you all knew that right? Glucose–a carbohydrate–is the only fuel suitable for the brain; therefore, carbohydrate is essential. In the study, overweight and obese men and women were fed either a high carb or low carb diet for eight weeks. The researchers then looked at mood and cognitive function (through intelligence and reasoning tests). Mood was not affected by the amount of carbohydrate consumed, but those eating more carbs solved problems faster.
I find this important information because I am often asked what I think about the low carb diet. My standard answer: Eat everything in balanced moderation, and increase carb or protein depending on your activities. Working hard at the office? Increase your carbs a little. Fruits are best, but grains are good too; just don’t make Pringles your carb of choice (well, OK, have a few). Working out a lot? Increase your protein intake. Try nuts, cheese, turkey meatballs, chocolate milk (yes, it’s good too…in moderation), or whatever floats your boat. All this information, and more, is in my soon to be released book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health. Just follow basic principles and forget the fads, man. Fads come and go (remember food combining and Fit for Life?), but principles are forever. So be smart and eat well. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.