(I used to be Merry, but that has changed.)
I've been dutifully reading the scientific literature, trying to skim the healthiest cream off of the milk of human research. There are a lot of studies out there talking about the virtues and vices of a "low-carb" diet.
I thought this study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center was great news when I first read it: Low-carb burns more excess liver fat than low-calorie diet. I mean, not having excess liver fat is a very good thing. Forget vodka, you can get cirrhosis just by being overweight. But what do they mean by low-carb?
Should I give up pasta?
But wait, there's more!
Another study claims that a low-carb diet can affect the dieter's cognition skills. Turns out in this study the research subjects could either adopt a "a low-carb diet or a macronutrient balanced diet recommended by the American Dietetic Association." So does that imply the low-carb diet was not macronutrient balanced? I imagine it would get more so as the study progressed, if the subjects had problems with their cognition skills.
Should I give up carrots? They're carbs!
But weight, there's less!
A third study contends that "a very low-carb diet" is the best way for men to lose weight and keep it off.
And this professor from the University of Virginia says "Pshaw!" (Yeah, I'm paraphrasing.) According to him, "... for long-term weight maintenance, a high-carb, low-fat diet is still the best bet."
Okay, they're just doing this to drive me crazy, right? It must be a plot.
What are carbs exactly?
Bear with me here. To explain why I'm confused, I need to review the story so far.
I understand the basics thusly: your body gets nutrients from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. There are two basic types of carbohydrates: simple and complex.
So far so good. Then the plot thickens. Carbs can also be unrefined or refined. To me, being refined means drinking your tea with your pinkie sticking out, but to a carbohydrist (yes, I know it's not a real word, but it sounds good), refined means processed. The fiber has been stripped out, which also means the loss of any vitamins or minerals that were there.
This much, I could grasp. Then they threw in the Glycemic Index. Now I have to start worrying about how the carb is going to affect my blood sugar level.
When they introduced the GI concept, I started to get fed up with carbs and all their issues. And then the nutritionists unleashed the concept of Glycemic Load, and I wanted to scream.
Luckily, the Merck website has a pretty good definition of Glycemic Load: "A food, such as carrots, bananas, watermelon, or whole-wheat bread, may have a high glycemic index but contain relatively little carbohydrate and thus have a low glycemic load. Such foods have little effect on the blood sugar level."
Okay, I guess I can accept that. So long as they stop right there, thankyouverymuch. Enough classifications of these damn carbs.
Einstein, Solomon, and Angelina Jolie?
So what was the point of all that? Where does that leave us?
Where that leaves me is confused. When you read a study that claims a "low-carb" diet gives you the IQ of Einstein, the figure of Angelina Jolie, and the wisdom of Solomon, what kind of carb are they talking about?
Carrots are carbs, apples are carbs, lettuce, kale, daikon radishes... all carbs! Am I supposed to give them up?
All these different classifications of carbohydrates -- they're not all absorbed into the digestive system at the same rate, they're treated differently if you have a fatty liver or if you are of the male persuasion -- so why are they all lumped together in the scientific literature?
Does this confuse anyone else? Or should I go have a pizza in the hope that it will improve my cognitive skills?