By Dr. Stephen Holt, MD

Low Carb Lifestyles Prevail

National surveys show that more than 80% of American adults are following some form of low carb diet. This love affair with low carb lifestyles has spread to major restaurant chains and the sales of low carb products may grow to $30 billion by the end of this year. The low carb diet approach has entered mainstream medicine, but questions remain about long term effectiveness and health outcomes.
Many doctors are looking at ways of making carbohydrate-controlled diets more effective in the long term and healthier in their application. I regret that my friend and professional colleague Dr. Robert Atkins, MD is not with us to see the global embracement of his contemporary proposals on a low carb way of life. I have revered Dr. Atkins’ contribution to modern medicine in my book entitled “Enhancing Low Carb Diets”.

The Need for Adding Dietary Supplements
Scientists are addressing the growing need for nutritional supplements that may support low carb diets. There are two principle approaches to the enhancement of a low carb diet using supplements. On the one hand, there are powerful and versatile nutraceuticals that can improve the outcome of a low carb diet, and make it healthier by overcoming insulin resistance; whereas, on the other, there are a whole range of valuable dietary supplements that can add health benefits in a variety of ways. These approaches can help people look and feel more fit during their weight loss program. I am proposing powerful, healthy pathways to reap the real rewards from low carb diets.
Insulin resistance is a situation that may be present in up to 70 million American people who have the metabolic Syndrome X. In Syndrome X, insulin resistance underlies the variable combination of obesity, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. There is no doubt that being overweight, or fat, is a major risk to health and the constellation of problems in Syndrome X form major challenges to health and wellbeing.
Many people want to seek the peace of mind that they are engaged in healthy weight-loss initiatives and well selected dietary supplements can help provide “health insurance”. There is clear evidence that structuring a diet improves the ability of a person to stick to a diet and this is a real advantage of adding dietary supplements to a low carb lifestyle.

Selecting The Right Supplements
Dietary supplements that overcome insulin resistance, or provide real advantage for healthy weight control initiatives, include: soluble fiber [especially beta glucan enriched fractions of oat fiber], chromium, starch-blockers [e.g. Phase 2], vanadium, alpha lipoic acid, and several antioxidants. These natural substances can help overcome insulin resistance, reduce cholesterol, help appetite control, reduce oxidative stress, and even help lower blood pressure. Thus, these are smart ways to help a low carb diet.
A whole host of other benefits can be achieved from a variety of dietary supplements. There are products that can block cholesterol and carbohydrate absorption, improve digestive function and help bowel regularity. Products such as Green Tea Max™, enteric-coated fish oil, GLA, and other essential fatty acids all have a role in improving the outcome of low carb diets. For example, fish oil is an effective sensitizer of insulin function and it has cardiovascular benefits.
Any diet involves a self-imposed restriction of certain foods and the low carb dieter must consider taking a high quality multiple vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant. Energizing supplements for weight loss are often avoided in mature individuals on a low carb diet because of the risk of increasing blood pressure. However, green tea liquid concentrates are playing an increasing role in providing healthy, energizing, antioxidant approaches to help weight control.
I am a great supporter of the use of fruit and vegetable powders and / or greens products which can provide key nutrients that may be deficient in a low carb diet. I feel strongly about the need to control the cardiovascular risk of high blood homocysteine levels in mature people with the use of vitamin B6, B12, and Folic acid.

Integrating a Healthy Lifestyle
There are many opportunities to improve a low carb lifestyle with dietary supplements, but all dieters must recognize the importance of positive lifestyle change, exercise, and behavior modification. Without these global changes in behavior, sustained weight loss cannot occur.

Resource: Holt S, “Enhancing Low Carb Diets”, 2004

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