I gave a talk the other day in Erie, Pennsylvania, on “What Successful Popular Diets Have in Common.” We took a photo of the announcement on the easel, and posted it on Facebook, whereupon a whole bunch of people asked the obvious question: So what is it?! What do all popular diets have in common?!
Well, I’ll tell you. Here’s what all popular diets have in common: Every single one of them bans stripped carbs. No corn syrup or starch, no white flour, no white rice, no sugar. And that’s it. No matter what else the various strategies permit or restrict, they all ban stripped carbs. It seems crazy. After all, you probably believe that the plant-based diet and the paleo diet have absolutely nothing in common. But you would be mistaken.
Now, you’ve got diets that also restrict fat, like South Beach. And diets that restrict both stripped and intact carbs (at least initially), like Atkins. Then you’ve got the diets like Paleo, which specifies only high-quality protein sources, like grass-fed beef and pastured lamb and free-ranging chicken and their eggs. There are even diets, namely the “cabbage diet,” that initially restricts absolutely everything except the intact carbohydrates, meaning vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits. There’s one diet, Weight Watchers, that gives you points to “purchase” a limited number of stripped carbs, but allows unlimited access to fruits and vegetables. Of course you can earn more points with exercise, but that’s true of life in general.
Notice my terminology. You’ve probably heard stripped carbs referred to as “refined,” but that’s advertising spin. To refine is to remove coarse impurities. Removing the bran makes flour look whiter, cleaner. Removing the germ, where the nutritious oils are found, makes the flour last longer without going rancid. Looks cleaner, lasts longer — so it’s refined? Not on your life.
There isn’t a single dietary strategy that includes carbs that have been stripped of their fiber matrix. Stripped carbs aren’t food; they’re entertainment. You will never be able to build a healthy life for yourself with slices of white bread.
If getting rid of all the stripped carb in your diet seems like a daunting task to you, then start by reading every label, and not replacing anything that contains corn syrup. Why corn syrup? It’s as good a place to start as any, and products that contain it often contain white flour and sugar as well. Your intake of stripped carbs will automatically plummet, and your pants will be looser within a week or two.