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The Carbohydrate Addicts diet was written in 1993 by authors Rachel Heller MD, and Richard Heller MD. The success of the book has led to a number of follow-up books, many of which have been on bestseller lists.
The premise behind the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet (CAD) is that most overweight people are addicted to carbohydrates. The Hellers’ claim that most people fail to metabolize carbohydrates correctly, causing an imbalance of insulin levels. The elevated insulin levels cause a craving for food throughout the day.
Addiction to Carbohydrates?
Over the last few decades, refined sugars have played an increasing role in our diets. Authorities have esposed a low-fat diet – which has inadvertently lead to people eating far more carbohydrate than is necessary (given our generally sedentary lifestyles).
It should be no surprise that many people have become accustomed to highly sweetened foods. Whether this qualifies as an addiction is up for debate.
Carbohydrate Addicts Eating Plan
At its foundation is a reduction of carbohydrate intake. The rules are strict, with the diet providing a long list of foods, that are on the “allowed” list. Anything not in this list must be avoided.
Each day is split into 2 main meals – 2 meals are made up of a protein source (fish, poultry, lean red meat) and fibrous vegetables.
The 3rd meal is called the “reward” meal – this can be anything you want, but you should aim for a balance of 1/3 carbohydrate, 1/3 protein, and 1/3 fibrous (non-starchy vegetables). This reward meal must be consumed inside 1 hour.
The diet begins with a restricted 2 week phase, but then goes into a variety of eating plans – depending on whether you are maintaining or losing more weight.
Sensible or Not?
The book does start with a set of questions to determine whether you are a “Carbohydrate Addict”. The questions will determine whether the diet is appropriate for you.
Research over the last 5 years has shown considerable health benefits arising from moderating carbohydrate intake. However many find such diets difficult to sustain over the long term – much of our social eating patterns are based around carbohydrate foods.
Many people have found success with this plan (as with many low-carbohydrate approaches). Proteins and fats often lead to a greater feeling of fullness – leading the dieter to consume less energy as compared with a high carbohydrate diet.
Generally, we do eat too much processed carbohydrate (white flours, bakery foods, white rice and pasta, etc). This must surely be a contributor to obesity problems – but does not mean that all carbs are the enemy.
See Also: Carbohydrate Addicts – Carbohydrate Addicts official home page.
By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
- Avena, N. M., Rada, P., Hoebel, B. G. (2008). Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews, 32(1), 20-39. link
- Avena, N. (2009). Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. The Journal of nutrition, 139(3), 623-628. link
Last Reviewed: March 26, 2017