Roxanne Sukol, M.D.: The ‘low carb’ equation — why it’s time for you to get strategic about your nutrition

Job stress is more strongly associated with health than any other financial or family problem. You’re the CEO and you’re stressed. I see it all too often in my Executive Health practice, and too often emotional stress leads to stress-eating, which causes health issues. It’s a vicious cycle.

Prevention specialists like me work to lower medical costs by teaching business leaders to understand that certain carbohydrates (refined, manufactured, processed and stripped carbs) are major contributors to the rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

Why does this matter to you? Because chronic diseases cost money, and the likelihood is that it’s costing your company down to the bottom line. Nutritional deficiencies are a major contributing factor to chronic disease. Rest assured, all carbs are not created equal.

Most Americans have probably grown up on the standard American diet (sAd), but as a leader, it’s time for you to get strategic about your nutrition. You need to eat smart to stay at your absolute best.


Time for a definition

What does the term “low-carb” mean? What is the opposite of a low-carb diet? The (sAd) contains enormous amounts of refined grain and concentrated sugar. There’s sweet cereal, juice and toast at breakfast; sandwich, chips, soda and cookies at lunch; pasta and rolls at dinner.

Calling any strategy “low-carb” assumes that high-carb diets are the norm. And that cannot be a solution.

This perspective highlights the difference between absolute and relative comparisons. Relative comparisons are notoriously undependable. They may tell you where you landed, but they reveal nothing about how far you traveled. Calling nutritious eating “low-carb” is a relative comparison.


So, how to get smart?

Nutritious diets, with generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are not “low-carb.” What then?

It’s not carbs per se that are the problem. The problem is stripped carbs, or processed carbs that have been stripped of their fiber, such as these deficient carbs: white flour, corn syrup, corn starch, white rice and sugar.

Most of us can eat all the peaches and garbanzo beans we want. Instead of low-carb, I want to hear people talking about low-grain diets, low-processed-food diets or even low-grain/low-fruit diets. Ultimately, that tells me a lot more about what they’re eating.

Good carbs: vegetables, beans, fruits and 100 percent whole grains.

When you call a diet “low-carb,” you are comparing it with the sAd, which is sky high in processed carbohydrates. The term “low-carb” doesn’t tell whether an individual has excluded processed grain, all grain or perhaps all grain plus fruits. To call a diet “low-carb” presumes that the sAd contains a reasonable amount of carb. Which it does not.

So what’s your goal? A diet that excludes processed foods should help you sleep better, concentrate better, exercise better, lower your risk for chronic disease and yes, potentially improve your bottom line.