Ron Cain

RON CAIN: To carb or not to carb, that’s the question

A balanced meal is the best way to diet

Ron Cain | Contributed

I walked into a book store and went to the nutrition section. I lost count of the number of books on the shelves specifically on weight loss. It seems if you are a celebrity you must be an expert on health sciences – few titles were by anyone with an advanced degree in nutrition.

All diets work. All diets produce similar results. You can go high carb vegetarian or keto diet with five per cent carbs and 80 per cent fat. Irrespective of the formula you will lose a similar amount of weight.

Why? Most if not all people when embarking on a weight loss diet reduce their calories, eat more vegetables and exercise more. It makes isolating the cause of the weight loss more difficult.

Secondly, people on a diet, any kind of diet, tend to consume fewer calories.

The Keto diet, a very low in carbohydrates and high in animal fats – is de rigueur these days. When I question the veracity of such a drastic diet the usual response is: “I am losing weight; it’s the only thing that works for me” .

The fact is cutting carbs to an extreme will lead to a significant and rapid weight loss as the body sheds water because carbohydrates attract and hold water. The goal is to lose fat, not water.

The greater concern is the long-term impact of a diet heavy in meats and processed foods.

Preservatives used in processed foods increase the risk of cancer significantly. The body struggles to process red meat through the digestive tract.

We know that vegetables and fruits are incredibly loaded in nutrition, especially valuable vitamins. We know that fibre is very valuable in both weight loss and in spending less time in the bathroom reading magazines – and yet people are cutting back on veggies and fruits as a source of carbs.

And finally, we know that when you exercise the vast majority of the calories used are sourced from carbohydrates, thus a diet low in carbohydrates can lead to low energy levels and people have trouble adhering to a strong exercise program.

Studies of populations that live on average much longer than North Americans – such as people in Okinawa – reveal they have much higher than average levels of carbs in their diets – and they have lower intakes of meats, sugars, processed foods and food additives. Their lower body fat levels and lower rates of cancer, hypertension and diabetes disappears when they immigrate to North America and change their diet.

So what to do. How does one navigate the foggy sea of diet advice and actually succeed in achieving hitherto allusive goals.

Perhaps one could simply apply common sense. A diet is a short–term restriction of what we eat – an eating pattern is a lifelong approach to eating a consistent, healthy range of foods with diversity and balance.

You don’t need a skinny celebrity to tell you how to eat. The Canada Food Guide used to be, well- terrible. It has undergone a complete transformation and has excellent advice that accommodates most everyone. The on-line version can be found at

Don’t get your knickers in a twist about percentages of this or that. When you look at your dinner plate it needs to be 50 per cent veggies. Focus on eliminating sugar – start with stop drinking juice and sweetened yogourts and move on from there. Increase your intake of fibre and you will feel better and drop those pounds a well.


Ron Cain is a personal trainer with Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at

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