Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book Review: Life Without Bread

This is the book that changed my thinking about low-fat vs. low-carb.

The author, Christian B. Allan, Ph.D., draws heavily from the medical practice and original "Life Without Bread" book of Wolfgang Lutz, M.D. From what I can tell, that's the reason that Dr. Lutz's name is listed as an author.

I've only been a low-carb dieter for a month, but I've noticed many interesting results. I can lose weight while increasing my fat consumption. When I eat low-carb, I don't get food cravings. I stay full much longer. The water retention that has plagued me for over 10 years has virtually disappeared. Same with the hormone headaches that used to put a crimp in my style. In fact, my hormones seem to run on a much more even keel.

Reading Life Without Bread explained the fantasic results that I've experienced. Sometimes the author goes into scientific detail that goes over my head, but then he summarizes in lay-man terms that I understand.

Here's a sentence from the book that hit home for me: "The hormone serotonin is responsible for hot flashes and headaches after a meal." There in black and white is the reason that I've been experiencing hot flashes. Not because I'm perimenopausal, but because consuming carbohydrates upsets my body's finely tuned hormone balance. Now that I've reduced my carbohydrate intake, the hot flashes are gone, as are the headaches.

Both my doctor and I were perflexed when I lost 35 pounds on Weight Watchers and yet my cholesterol went UP. This book explains why that is -- because a low-fat diet doesn't drop cholesterol. Eating more fats acutally drops cholesterol, something I experienced only after my doctor had me take 3 fish oil tablets every day. (I'm very curious to see where my cholesterol levels end up on a low-carb diet!)

Chapter Six, Heart Disease: From Fat to Fiction, challenged my long-held beliefs in low-fat wisdom. I found the author's reasoning and use of studies/research overwhelming.

After reading chapter six I found myself feeling profound guilt about all the carbs (especially refined carbs) that my family eats. After reading the chapter, I bought half and half for the first time in years! And yesterday at the grocery store I also picked up whole milk. My thinking is, because the rest of my family doesn't seem to have all the carbohydrate issues that I have, if I start increasing the fat in the foods they eat, it will satisfy their hunger and result in them eating fewer carbohydrates.

I didn't love everything about this book. The author spent chapter eleven making assertions for a low-carb diet from the evidence of evolution. Basically Allan believes that "human physiology has not yet been able to adapt to this radical change in food" -- meaning that man's system is still geared for hunting/gathering instead of the agricultural society we find ourselves in today.

Here's the thing -- I'm deeply religious. While I can see the scientific evidence of evolution, I believe that God has a grand plan and design for this world and its inhabitants. If we now find ourselves in an agricultural society, that is reality, and part of God's plan. You can't fight reality. But you can live in it.

From what I can see, our American society has spent the past 30+ years trying to discount the value of fats in our diet. Maybe God looked down at us and thought, "Here they go again. Thinking they know better than I do. Don't they know that I give them EVERYTHING for their enjoyment, to be used wisely? I guess they'll have to learn the hard way."

And that's what's happened. The calories that we no longer got from fat were substituted with more carbohydrates. And eating more carbohydrates for the past 30 plus years has lead to the plumping up of America -- something that Life Without Bread demonstrates vividly.

Back to reality. I'm overweight. I'm sensitive to carbohydrates as are millions of other Americans. What can we do? Educate ourselves and cut back on carbohydrates. Eat more fat. And give thanks for ALL that the Lord provides for us to eat. Savor it. Enjoy it. Relish life and good health!


Suko said...

Christie, I do think we live in a "carboholic" society, perhaps because we are all so hooked on low fat foods. What you've presented from the book makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your findings.

Kimberly said...

This book sounds interesting. I too have found that increasing fat does not make me fat! Although I need to be careful to NOT lose weight as I am only going low-carb for intestinal reasons. Thanks for the info. on the book.

Christie said...

Carboholic is a good word for it. I found that I was somewhat addicted to carbs -- eating them makes me crave more. A vicious cycle.

and Kimberly,
"Life Without Bread" does give a lot of evidence that LC lifestyle help a variety of intestinal illnesses. I hope it helps you!

Flashlight Girl said...

Okay, I agree with the carboholic comment, but mostly with the fact that the general public eats way too many refined carbs-- white bread, processed foods, etc. Minimally processed (read whole) grains are great, and necessary, for the body. All fats are not created equal. Although people were less "fat" in the 50s, heart disease was still a problem. The invention of transfats has been disastrous. Natural sources are always going to be the best. I include butter and whole dairy in this list. I was raised on raw milk for heavens sake. The wisdom of "moderation in ALL things" holds true for fats, too. Yay for you on another pound gone!

Tigersue said...

Thanks for visiting our blog. I have read Life with out Bread many years ago. My favorite is the Scwarzbein Principle, which is very similar. Another extremely excellent book is Diabetes Solution. It is very technical, writen by a man that is a type 1 diabetic. It is very inspiring, and throws away the myth that carbs are essential. Another book I suggest you pick up is Good Calorie, Bad Calorie. This book has really opened my eyes to the travesty that our health care organizations have done in promoting the low fat, high carb lifestyle.