Q. Atkins or more carbs?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 12 September 2013.
Tagged: balanced diet, carbs, dieting, diets, healthy eating, protein, weight loss

Q. Atkins or more carbs?

Q. Recently there has been a lot of promotion for the Atkins and other carbohydrate free diets, as an effective way to lose weight.

The question in full:

Q. Recently there has been a lot of promotion for the Atkins and other carbohydrate free diets, as an effective way to lose weight. But is there a diet that high in carbs and low in protein that's equally effective? I live with my teenage daughters and not only are carbohydrate-based meals the cheapest but they're also what my girls prefer. We eat pasta, rice, lots of vegies and bread but only have meat every other night, for example chops one night a week, chicken maybe twice and pasta dish with bacon at other times. We are quite happy with this but all have three or four kilos to lose. The promoters of the Atkins diet make it sound so easy to eat all meat but I think that would be too drastic a change for us.

A. A modified Atkins diet – more protein such as meat, fish or chicken with small serves of pasta, potato, rice bread and fruit – is working for many people, but it's not the only choice for anyone trying to lose weight.

Two trials comparing Atkins against the usual low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet have reported little difference in weight loss over 12 months.

So if a carbohydrate-based diet is more agreeable to you, I suggest you follow your instinct here and aim for balanced meals with a mix of carbohydrate AND protein which ends up filling you up so you don't look for 'something sweet' at 10pm after dinner.

Just remember that such diets work best when the carbohydrate is whole grain or low glycaemic index (GI) or high-fibre. Opt for pasta cooked al dente, basmati rice, grainy breads, legumes (for the nights you don't eat meat), sweet potato, green peas and corn niblets. Eat them in preference to white bread, white rice, potato and 'refined' cereals. Studies show that the fibre and 'slow carbohydrates' help keep you full and delay the return of hunger after a meal

Finally eat plenty of low-kilojoule vegetables and salads - five serves a day is recommended.