I have been following a very low-carb diet since my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis in 2013. Over the years, I have had many family members and friends ask me if my way of eating could improve their own evolving health conditions. Typically, people have heard the buzz regarding low-carb and keto diets, but are uncertain, as the success stories conflict with what they think they know about nutrition. These conversations highlight a devastating confusion. Common myths and misinformation, such as “saturated fat clogs the arteries,” paralyze positive action.
The confusion has become a huge barrier to achieving good health outcomes. It’s a tragic situation, since about half of all U.S. citizens are either pre-diabetic or have Type 2 diabetes, and obesity rates in the western world are already at epidemic levels and continue to rise. Clearly, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive, accurate and digestible protocol that will allow us to regain our metabolic health.
End Your Carb Confusion, by Dr. Eric Westman and Amy Berger, CNS, meets this need. This newly published book provides an introduction to the central, relevant details of metabolism, and even more importantly, End Your Carb Confusion gives a detailed and concrete action plan customized to your specific metabolic state.
Both Dr. Westman and Ms. Berger have been on a mission to address the crisis of modern metabolic disease. I met Dr. Westman in 2016 at the Low Carb USA conference. There, he spoke about his clinical experience advising his own patients to adopt a low-carb lifestyle. The results were profound: he saw a dramatic reduction in both A1c and required medications in his Type 2 diabetes patients. End Your Carb Confusion is the detailed guide describing his patient protocol.
Co-author Amy Berger is an international speaker on low-carb and ketogenic nutrition, has authored peer-reviewed journal articles, and serves on the review committee for the Certification Examination for Nutrition Specialists. She blogs at Tuit Nutrition, where she writes about a wide range of health and nutrition-related topics, such as insulin, metabolism, weight loss, and thyroid function.
End Your Carb Confusion is a comprehensive manual of clinical information required for a reader to get their health back on track, all in one easy to read reference. The book addresses the basics of physiology, including the topics of diabetes and body weight as well as important details on the role of insulin, and offers a concrete low-carb dietary approach, including a program detailing what to eat depending on your determined metabolic state.
Author Dr. Westman (third from left) and I (standing with microphone) participated on a panel at Low Carb USA 2016.
In my talks with friends and family, I’ve found that most people have a level of healthy skepticism about the ‘standard’ food pyramid approach. Even so, they are still extremely hesitant to go against the norms, at least without some basic understanding of the physiology. End Your Carb Confusion develops the groundwork for the action portion of the book by introducing these basics of physiology. The authors, for example, explain that our response to hunger is not rooted in willpower or discipline, but instead in the hormonal effects induced by the types of foods we eat. Eating the wrong foods makes us hungrier, and this hunger is what eventually leads us to weight gain, high insulin levels, high blood sugar, metabolic syndrome, and the complications of diabetes, from swollen legs and erectile dysfunction to high blood pressure, neuropathy, and early death.
A simple, concrete plan
End Your Carb Confusion presents an ingenious approach to identifying the appropriate dietary strategy for you. This is explicitly not a one size fits all approach. The plan achieves this individualization by smartly considering your metabolic condition. This individual context is key, and corrects the blunder of the high-carbohydrate government guidelines that push breads and cereals without any regard to the metabolic health of the citizen or their ability to tolerate carbohydrates.
While the professional diabetes associations have recently shifted gears and now acknowledge that dietary approaches should be individualized, they so far have failed to provide any real, effective, or sensible program for how to do so. End Your Carb Confusion solves this problem. The book’s program essentially provides the basis for new – and finally correct! – dietary guidelines.
The authors first present a ‘metabolic checklist,’ which allows readers to identify their correct dietary approaches or ‘phase’ plans.
Phase 1 is the most stringent plan in terms of carb consumption – under 20g a day – and is the right approach for those who are overweight/obese, or have Type 2 diabetes or other serious metabolic conditions. In addition to limiting carbs to 20g, in Phase 1, the types of carbs are also limited – no starch, grain, or fruits are allowed – only fibrous, non-starchy vegetables and salad greens. Phase 1 is the approach I follow, as it has nearly perfect overlap with Bernstein’s dietary protocol.Phase 2 increases the allowed carb amount to 50g and is recommended for those who are healthy, but still may be slightly overweight or may have hypertension and with no other health issues. Not only is the carb amount increased in Phase 2, but allowable food/carb choices, such as berries, nuts and seeds are added.Phase 3 allows for 150g of carbohydrate and is for individuals who are at an ideal weight and are athletic – here, potatoes and some grains are allowed into the diet.
In each phase, carb amounts refer to limits and not requirements – it is okay to eat less! Once you have determined which phase you should be in, the book then provides ample details regarding the foods to embrace and the foods to avoid.
Frequent questions and topics addressed include constipation, alcohol use, carbohydrate addiction, fasting, supplements, and artificial sweeteners. The authors also address situations that require a more specialized approach, such as ‘double diabetes,’ where people with Type 1 diabetes also develop Type 2 diabetes after many years on a high-carb (and high-insulin) regimen. One question I myself am repeatedly asked is, “Can kids follow the very low carb diet?” The book answers this perfectly: “Yes! This is just plain food! Beef, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds…there is no such thing as a sugar deficiency.”
Important insights from clinical experiences are shared throughout the book. Near the end, a man with Type 2 diabetes who has suffered liver failure gives a detailed account of his experience following Dr. Westman’s plan – his weight went from 330 pounds to 170 pounds and his A1c dropped from 12% to 4.8%. He speaks with optimism and gratitude: “I am no longer a broken man. I have renewed hope that I will watch my grandchildren grow into adulthood.” Simply awesome.
End Your Carb Confusion is the perfect book to send to friends and family who are showing an interest in and commitment to improving their health, or for those who have started to see their health markers or weight become of concern. I’ll be buying a few extra copies to have on hand when friends and family start asking questions and need help.