The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet: Gimmick, Fad, or Metabolic Adjuster?
How the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet was discovered, formed, refined, studied, and demonstrated to work with those who are Insulin Resistant
Many of us are overweight and are looking for ways to improve our health and lose weight. We have dieted in the past, only to find it a struggle the entire time: hungry, cranky, elated with the weight loss but eventually giving up only to gain all the weight back and usually even more than when we started. For some of us it has been a life long cycle of exactly this. Diet, become miserable, give up, end up worse off then having not even dieted at all.
It was due to their own similar weight loss struggles that eventually led Dr. Rachael Heller and Dr. Richard Heller to further their research. They wanted to find out how the weight Rachael lost that she accidentally stumbled upon worked. They later went on to study and refine that way of eating for consistent results with others who have similar metabolisms.
Dr. Rachael Heller had been overweight her entire life. She discovered one day when she had to fast for an X-ray that she lost 2 pounds, even though she ended up eating a rather large dinner that night. She was surprised by that and decided to continue eating the same way for the next week to see what happened. She basically fasted all day, then ate what she wanted during dinner. She realized she felt fine all day with limited hunger, good energy levels, and could still eat the foods she really liked for dinner and not suffer for it like she had following traditional low fat and low calorie diets. She continued this way of eating and ultimately lost 150 pounds!
Her husband had also struggled with his weight over the years and started keeping track of foods that seemed to satisfy him and others that seemed to trigger hunger. When they finally met later in life they decided to research their combined experiences to see how and why they had finally been able to find a way of eating that did everything we all dream about when dieting: satisfies hunger, gives you energy, allows you to still eat and lose weight, allows you to eat everyday regular comfort foods and still lose weight, is simple (no weighing, no counting calories, etc).
They went on to study why eating, and especially eating certain foods seemed to trigger more hunger and weight gain in certain people. The main culprit is how the body reacts to the hormone insulin. They found that with people who were Insulin Resistant (IR), they seemed to be hungry all the time, and all had especially strong reactions to carb rich foods. Hence dubbing this way of eating The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet. They studied certain common symptoms found in people with insulin resistance and came up with a test that reader’s of their books can take to see if they have it without having to take blood tests with their doctor.
They used already known research and knowledge about insulin resistance and metabolic factors and studied how eating certain ways seemed to limit the release of insulin and this is the key to their diet. It was found that it is not necessary to fast all day like Rachael had done. You also do not have to cut out carbohydrates altogether either. You could eat foods that did not stimulate large amounts of insulin release and still lose weight. Not having large amounts of insulin floating around the blood stream has other added benefits besides weight loss: less hunger, less cravings, less drowsiness.
These are the keys to the success of this diet. You feel good. You have energy. You are not mindlessly hungry and craving certain foods and constantly wanting to eat. You can still eat wholesome foods, and once a day you can have an actual real meal for dinner (or your favorite time of day to consume carbohydrate rich foods) complete with any of your favorite foods and still lose weight. You don’t have to count calories, count fat grams, weigh things, buy special diet food or products, etc. It is an actual way of eating that is simple, easy to follow, healthy, nutritious, satisfying, and most of all actually works for up to 80% of people who have Carbohydrate Addiction. It is an actual way of life.
80% success you ask? Yes. They studied 1000 people and followed them for 2 years and found they had an 80% success rate. They fine tuned the diet and continued to study it more over the years and have found over time things that seemed to contribute to failure in certain people and have gone on to publish more books and diets specific to this. Some people eat too much during their Reward Meal time- hence the CALP book’s recommendations of an actual spelled out balanced meal: Start with a 2 Cup salad, look at your dinner plate and divide it into thirds: 1/3 protein, 1/3 more of vegetables, and 1/3 of a carb of your choice. They also found in certain people MSG, sugar free products, and caffeine can be triggers to release insulin. Watch for these symptoms of cravings, increased hunger, weight gain or stalled loss to be your guide that something you ingested during the low carb meals or snack is the culprit. Some people snack throughout the day, others do not mind to the one hour limit when eating. These are things that contribute to additional insulin in the blood stream. More insulin equals more hunger and weight gain.
A similar diet was set up and studied in Israel and was found to have similar results to the Heller’s Carbohydrate Addict’s diet. You can read more details about that study here:
Saving Carbs for Dinnertime Might Help Control Weight
The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet (CAD), and the Carbohydrate Addict’s Life Span Program (CALP) work differently than other low carb diets. You only have to follow a few simple guidelines. You do not have to keep track of carbohydrate intake for the most part. There is no induction phase, nor do you go into ketosis. On those types of diets you are given a daily allotment of carbs you can ingest. You get to choose when you want to eat them. You can eat all sorts of low carb products, and you can graze and eat all day as long as you stay within your carb allotments.
The CAD/CALP diets differ in that the food you eat, how frequently you eat, and the length of time you eat has everything to do with the Insulin Resistant metabolism. The more carbohydrate rich the foods, as well as the frequency in which one eats causes more release of insulin. In those with IR, you want to use your metabolism to your benefit. You want to manipulate it to suit you. Hence, you eat as low carb as possible, and no more than 2-3 times a day for these low carb meals. You can still eat plenty of vegetables during the low carb meals for the added nutrients of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It has been found that you can still eat carb-rich foods in a balanced amount with the rest of a meal one time a day and still lose weight. However, you need to eat within an hour.
There are several reasons, the main being how your body releases insulin. Any time you eat, your body releases insulin in different phases. At the start of eating your body will begin to release insulin based of off previous meal intake. If previous meals were low carb, then it will release less insulin since it was primed to do so. The next phase is off of currently ingested food. If you are eating longer than an hour your body will continue to release more insulin into the blood stream. Limiting your carb-rich meal to one hour will not only cut back on the amount of food you might eat, but also uses these insulin mechanisms to your benefit.
With other low carb diets, you may be consuming less carbs in total over the day, but still having insulin in the blood stream far more regularly than if you limited meals to a total of 3-4 times a day and ideally spaced 3-6 hours apart. Not to mention with other low carb diets you can actually eat quite a lot of carbs at meals and still be considered “low carb.” Think of the CAD/CALP way of eating as “extreme low-carb” all day and then “regular carb” at your carb rich meal.
This may be why depending on a particular person’s metabolism one way of eating may work and another may not. One should find a way of eating that can be a lifestyle and not a short term solution. If you find that your particular way of eating is not satisfying, that you are always hungry, and that you think you have avoid certain foods or food groups in order to lose weight and that is not something you can conceive of doing the rest of your life, then you may want to consider trying CAD/CALP yourself to see if it works for your particular metabolism.
The diet in a nutshell with meal planning examples:
A low carb breakfast such as eggs and bacon, an omelet with spinach and cheese, cream cheese and lunch meat lettuce wraps.
For lunch, a large salad with your favorite salad dressing (should be 2gm of carbs per serving or less), and your choice of diced chicken, a hamburger pattie, deli meats, etc.
For an optional snack if needed: pepperoni and cheese sticks, a cabbage roll, a boiled egg, etc.
For dinner: Start with a large salad. Divide your plate into thirds and have 1/3 protein of your choice, 1/3 of another vegetable of your choice, and 1/3 of a carb of your choice (alcoholic beverage, fruit, rice, beans, ice cream, cake, bread, etc). You do not have to weigh or count calories. Just eyeball it and keep to the thirds balance. If you want seconds go back for a second serving of each in the same 1/3 portions and not for just more carbs to keep it all balanced. Consume it all within an hour. The original CAD diet was more vague about keeping the meal balanced and a lot of people interpreted that diet as a one hour carb binge. However some people can still eat a lot more carbs during this meal and lose weight. If you are not losing weight you may want to follow the balanced plan as outlined in the CALP book for better results.
You may also drink water and unsweetened coffee or tea as often as you wish. If you want cream in your coffee, you can do so once a day and should drink it within 15 minutes. Do not drink sugar free sodas or diet drinks outside of your carb meal. Even sugar free sweeteners have been found to cause the body to release insulin.
Read the books for the exact details of their diet plans and for more information on the list of acceptable foods such as proteins, vegetables, and condiments that have been studied and considered acceptable during the low carb meals for the best success.
Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet Tips:
This diet works because it controls your insulin release, which is related to how you store and use body fat. (See the book for all the scientific references!) You are allowed only three meals and one optional snack on CAD/CALP. This is how the insulin releases are controlled. Two of the meals are called “Complementary Meals” (CM’s) and the third is called a “Reward Meal” (RM.) There is no calorie counting, no carbohydrate counting… it is a very simple diet so none of that is necessary. If you follow the rules, everything falls into place.
CM’s are essentially very low carb meals. You divide your plate in half, and ½ your meal is protein, and the other ½ is low carb vegetables. Simple. There is a specific list of veggies to choose from called “crave–reducing” choices. The list is pretty extensive, but it does not include all low carb veggies. You are allowed to eat from this list, and that is all. If it’s not on the list, you don’t eat it. (But rest assured, there’s so much to choose from you won’t feel restricted.) It’s easy and flexible, it just needs to be balanced, protein & veggie. The optional snack is the same as the CM, just smaller.
A RM is a flexible meal you can have for your choice of breakfast, lunch or dinner. This makes it easy to plan for events like restaurant meals or parties. For the RM you begin your meal with a salad, then you divide your plate into thirds. 1/3 is protein, 1/3 is low carb veggie, and that last 1/3 is ANYTHING YOU WANT. If it fits in that 1/3 balance, you can have it. Potato, bread, cake, cookies, candy, pasta, rice, whatever carbohydrate you feel like having.
This does not give you free license to pig out on carbs, your meals must be BALANCED. If you want more carbohydrates, you must also take the same portions of protein and vegetables too.
One more catch: The RM must be completed within a one hour time limit. This has everything to do with controlling the insulin release and it is very important. You are not allowed to snack (aside from the optional complementary snack.) You eat three to four times a day, and that’s it. Believe it or not, this will not be a problem. Your meals should carry you easily to the next meal. It’s all about that insulin control.
Many people have the misconception that the RM is a 1-hour pig out all you can eat junk-a-thon. IT IS NOT. People also think that if they even have one taste of sugar they will binge into oblivion. THIS IS NOT TRUE. If you are true to the diet and stick to the 1/3 portion of carbohydrates, you will be just fine. You will be pleasantly surprised that the single slice of pie is enough, and you’re okay not going back for more and more like in the old days!
Overall this is a very flexible diet that fits well into the real world.
Things that might cause cravings, weight gain, or plateaus:
1. Eating more than 4 times a day.
2. Drinking coffee with cream and/or AS more than once a day outside your RM or taking more than 15 minutes to drink that once a day coffee with cream and/or AS.
3. Eating too much cheese at CMs--more than 2 ounces.
4. Artificial sugar during the day or at CM.
5. Diet Soda during the day outside your RM.
6. LC recipes or lc products during CM.
7. Exceeding 4 carbs per CM exclusive of listed foods.
8. Too much fat at CMs.
9. Hidden carbs/sugars, fillers.
10. Using net carb theory.
11. Atkins allowed vegetables that aren't on the CM list.
12. Vegetables that aren't on the CM list.
13. Trigger foods at CM--MSG, broccoli, green/red peppers, cottage cheese, onions, AS, pork rinds.
14. Allergen/sensitive foods at CM/RM-- sugar, wheat, dairy, cheese, eggs.
15. Not enough protein. Try for at least 12 ounces over the course of the day.
16. Flavored waters.
17. Salad dressings with more than 2 carbs per serving.
18. Nuts, bars, shakes, mock Danish, pork rinds.
19. Unbalanced, wildly unbalanced, or carb binging RMs.
20. Gum and breath mints.
21. SF Metamucil or fiber outside CM/RM.
22. Exceeding the 60 minute RM rule by even a few minutes.
Craving Reducing Foods List
ANY FOOD *NOT* LISTED SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A CARBOHYDRATE-RICH FOOD
all regular and lean meats, including: bacon (check the label for sugars) ham(check the label for sugars) lamb, rabbit, veal, beef, hamburger, pastrami, sausages (no added sugar)* corned beef, hot dogs (all meat), pork, venison. Most lunch meats contain added sugars and fillers and those not listed in this meat section should be saved for reward meals only.
light and dark varieties, with or without skin including: capon, chicken, cornish hen, duck, goose, pheasant, quail, squab, turkey (ground or whole)
FISH AND SHELLFISH:
all varieties, canned, jarred (no sugar), or cooked (no bread crumbs), including: bass, bluefish, calamari, clams, cod, crabmeat, flounder, haddock, halibut, lobster, monkfish, oysters, perch, salmon, sardines, scallops, scrod, shrimp, smelt, sole, sturgeon, swordfish, trout, tuna
DAIRY AND NON-MEAT ALTERNATIVES:
Regular or low-fat varieties of: eggs, egg substitutes, cheese (all varieties except low-fat ricotta), cream cheese, cottage cheese* milk, cream, or half-and-half (up to 2oz daily in one cup of coffee or tea or in cooking; not nondairy creamers), sour cream, tofu (soybean curd) vegetarian meat alternatives that contain 4 grams of carbohydrate or less per average serving
fresh, stir-fried, sautéed (no breading), steamed, or boiled non-starchy vegetables alfalfa sprouts, bamboo shoots, brussels spouts, celery, green beans, kohlrabi, okra, peppers (green or red*), snap beans, tomatoes (raw, about 1/4 per meal), arugula, bean spouts, cabbage, cucumbers, greens (all), lettuce, onions (as seasoning only), radishes, sorrel (sour grass), asparagus, broccoli*, cauliflower, endive, kale, mushrooms, parsley, scallions, spinach, wax beans
OILS, FATS, AND DRESSINGS:
butter or margarine, regular mayonnaise: oils: all varieties salad dressings: all regular and low-fat varieties where sugar is not among first four ingredients.
capers (for garnish only), garlic, horseradish, ketchup 1-2 tablespoons only), mustard, onion (fresh or powdered for cooking only), seeds (poppy or sesame, for cooking only), wine* (dry varieties, for cooking only) dill pickles, herbs, juice (citrus, small amounts for cooking only), mayonnaise (regular only), olives (green or black, no pimientos), pepper or salt, spices, vinegar (white, all other varieties*)
carbonated water, club soda (non flavored)*, coffee, seltzer (non flavored) tea
*if your particularly sensitive to carbs, you may find that these foods can cause rebound cravings or educed weight loss. If so, or you have concern, eliminate them or save for reward meals.
CAD/CALP CHEAT SHEET
1. EAT TWO MEALS OR TWO MEALS AND A SNACK COMPRISED OF THE LISTED FOODS.
2. EAT 12-16 OUNCES OF PROTEIN A DAY; MOSTLY RED MEAT, DARK MEAT POULTRY, AND FISH.
3. EXCEPT FOR THE AMOUNTS LISTED, ITEMS ARE LIMITED TO 3 GRAMS OF CARBOHYDRATE/ITEM AND A TOTAL OF 6 GRAMS/MEAL FOR CONDIMENTS/OTHER ITEMS.
4. A SNACK IS ONE-HALF THE SIZE OF A MEAL. ALWAYS CARRY AN ALLOWED SNACK SUCH AS BEEF JERKY WITH YOU WHEN OUT.
3. DO NOT EAT ANY FOOD DURING YOUR NON-CARBOHYDRATE MEALS WITH MORE THAN 3 GRAMS OF CARBOHYDRATE PER SERVING.
5. HAVE ONE BALANCED REWARD MEAL W/SALAD EATING WHATEVER YOU WANT, HOWEVER MUCH YOU WANT. EAT NO LONGER THAN 60 CONTINUOUS MINUTES. DO NOT LET MORE THAN 20 MINUTES LAPSE BETWEEN FOODS TAKEN WITHIN THE 60 MINUTE REWARD MEAL.
6. CALP GUIDE IS TO HAVE A BALANCED REWARD MEAL COMPRISED OF 1/3 PROTEIN, 1/3 VEGETABLES AND 1/3 CARBOHYDRATES (INCLUDING DESSERT AND ALCOHOL)
7. EXCEPT FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS, HAVE REWARD MEAL FOR THE SAME MEAL EACH DAY.
8. OTHER THAN DIET SOFT DRINKS, SUGAR SUBSTITUTES AND SUGAR-FREE GELATIN; DO NOT USE DIET OR LOW FAT PRODUCTS WITHOUT CHECKING CARBOHYDRATES.
9. LIMIT DIET SOFT DRINKS TO 2 AND ADDITIONAL SUGAR SUBSTITUTES TO 2 PER DAY. AVOID MSG.
10. DRINK 8-10 12 OUNCE GLASSES OF WATER A DAY.
11. USE UP TO 2 OUNCES MILK, HEAVY LIGHT OR COFFEE CREAM IN YOUR COFFEE ONCE A DAY AND DRINK IT WITHIN 15 MINUTES, OTHERWISE HAVE IT BLACK. DO NOT USE NON-DAIRY POWDER.
12. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. FOOD ALLERGIES/SENSITIVITIES CAN ALSO CAUSE CRAVINGS, GAS, BLOATED/UPSET STOMACHS, AND HEADACHES. IF ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS RESULT FROM THE REWARD MEAL, INVESTIGATE/FIND THE CULPRIT FOOD AND MINIMIZE/AVOID IT IN YOUR DIET.
13. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY II. SOME CARBOHYDRATE ADDICTS CAN REACT TO THESE FOODS WITH INCREASED APPETITE/CRAVINGS ALSO—ARTIFICIAL SUGARS, SUGAR ALCOHOLS, DIET SODAS, CAFFEINE, COTTAGE CHEESE, YOGURT, BROCCOLI, RED PEPPER AND OTHER HIGHER CARB VEGGIES. IF ANY OF THESE AFFECT YOU, ONLY HAVE THEM WITH YOUR REWARD MEAL.
PROTEIN (4-6 oz. Cooked, 6-8 oz. Raw/meal)
Any tofu, meat, game, poultry, containing 3 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving.
Any fish or shellfish without added fillers or sugars. Do not eat imitation lobster, crab or fish. Any cheese containing 3 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving. Eggs or egg substitutes containing 3 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving. Watch out for prepared egg, meat or fish salads, they often put breadcrumbs in them to extend them.
FATS, OILS AND DRESSINGS
Heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese, fats, oils or dressings containing 3 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving.
VEGETABLES (2 cups raw or 1 cup cooked or mixture/meal; do not count lettuces)
Beans (green or wax)
Cabbage, all kinds
Lettuce, all kinds
Onions (2 tbsp)
Squash (summer only)
Tomatoes (raw, ¼ only)
Catsup (2 tbsp)
Lime/lemon juice (2 tbsp)