This post is not about science. It's about anecdotes. But occasionally anecdotes can give us valuable insights.
Many of us think that low-carb eating is primarily a way of losing weight. Anybody who has tried a low-fat low-calorie diet is aware of how hard it is to stay on such a diet. We get hungry, we lose energy, and very often we don't lose much weight.
By contrast, in most cases a dedicated low-carber can lose significant amounts of weight without a great deal of hunger. However, the sad truth is that no matter how we may have lost our weight, statistically we are almost sure to regain it. If that's true, why should we bother with a low-carb diet at all?
I'm a member of an Atkins-related board on Yahoo. Over the years I have noticed that most of the members of this board have lost some weight by doing Atkins, but very few of them have actually reached and maintained their goal weights. When I asked the members of the board why they continue to do low-carb I received these answers.
- One woman said that she had lost 70 pounds. She is still 30 pounds from her goal weight, but she has maintained the 70 pound loss for 5 years. Her back problems and reflux have vanished, and she doesn't get sick all the time. She says she has energy and has never been this healthy.
- Another said that she has lots of hormonal problems, and by doing low-carb, she is at least not gaining weight.
- A third woman said, "I am no longer considered a diabetic (no more meds for it either!) I no longer have high blood pressure (no more meds for that either), I no longer have any signs of sleep apnea (no more c-pap), I CAN (don't like it) do some exercising... I will never be a runner- I don't want to, don't like it and that is my choice so I will never run in a marathon. :) But I do walk - a lot, which I couldn't do before."
- Almost everybody said that they feel better when they do low-carb.
Next I went to a bulletin board called Low Carb Friends. They saw similar benefits from following the low-carb lifestyle, and added a few more to the list.
- Lowered cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure
- Stabilized blood sugar
- Better skin, hair and nails
- Fewer aches and pains
- No heartburn
- No acid reflux
- Fewer colds
- No more sleepy feeling in the afternoon
- Better sleep at night
- Better stamina
Are these results guaranteed for everybody? No. But there are definitely more benefits to the low-carb lifestyle than simple weight loss.