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Dr. Oz talks about health and food cravings: Low carb diets best for weight loss

Beware of processed foods, say diet experts.
Beware of processed foods, say diet experts.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Is that burning in your chest caused by the bucket of fried chicken you had for lunch? Or could it be the first signs of a heart attack? Dr. Mehmet Oz explored heartburn versus heart attacks and discussed conquering cravings for weight loss on his August 8 talk show.

Foods that cause heartburn can vary. Some people may eat an orange before bed without problems, while others might wake up at midnight with problems. In addition to citrus fruits, coffee, peppermint, spicy foods, chocolate, tomatoes and coffee can cause heartburn.

In contrast, heart attack signs include shortness of breath, pain in the shoulder and neck and dizziness. You might break into a cold sweat or feel as if you have a heavy weight on your chest. Head to the ER if you experience these symptoms.

On the same episode, Dr. Oz talked about hunger, which originates in your stomach. Your brain receives signals that you interpret as hunger. By eating every few hours, Dr. Oz says that you can manage your hunger more successfully.

But just what should you eat at those meals for weight loss and longevity? In an exclusive interview, Dr. William Lagakos, author of "The poor, misunderstood calorie," revealed his views based on the most recent research. With a Ph.D. in nutritional biochemistry and physiology specializing in obesity, he recommends a low carb diet.

"All of the preliminary studies suggest that a low carbohydrate, Paleo-style diet should be highly conducive to anti-aging. The lack of excess added sugars and processed foods are keys here, and many animal studies suggest that the insulin-suppressive aspect of this way of eating also promotes longevity," Dr. Lagakos explained.

While the Paleo principles include avoiding all types of grains, Dr. Lagakos feels that food category is one of the "your mileage may vary" elements of this approach. "Some tolerate them perfectly fine, and in those people, grains can certainly be part of a healthy diet," he clarified.

However, because grains are not compatible with the low carb Paleo diet template, Dr. Lagakos cautions that they should not form the foundation of the diet or be a major source of calories. As for the traditional Standard American Diet (SAD) breakfast of cereal? "Traditional breakfast cereals are nutritionally bankrupt," he said bluntly.

The high fat low carb ketogenic diet has become controversial with regard to its benefits for weight loss. In particular, some question whether it is safe to stay in nutritional ketosis for lengthy periods of time.

"There are numerous case studies and some smaller-scale studies that go out to two to three years, which is quite 'long-term' when it comes to diet studies. Collectively, they show that nutritional ketosis is perfectly safe and healthy," notes Dr. Lagakos. However, for patients with genetic hyperlipidemia, the high fat content of ketogenic diets may cause problems.

Although Dr. Oz has not specifically recommend ketogenic diets for weight loss, he has recently become an advocate of low carb plans. He featured Dr. Peter Attia on his show to discuss how saturated fats can actually help you lose weight because they curb cravings.

Together with science journalist Gary Taubes, Dr. Attia co-founded the Nutrition Science Initiative. Both of them believe that shifting from the SAD menus of most consumers to low carb diets has the potential to make a dramatic difference in obesity and related conditions ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Oz also has publicized his belief that Paleo low carb diets can benefit dieters. The Paleo movement, also called the Ancestral Health approach, has grown so much that the Ancestral Health Society held a conference from August 7 to August 9.

Topics covered at the conference included the multiple uses of ketogenic diets. A Paleo version of the ketogenic diet has proven helpful for certain types of cancer, for example. And some athletes champion it for improving their performance by increasing their energy levels.

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