ECU professor's diet plan aims at carbohydrates

Dr. Ronald Dudek
GREENVILLE, N.C.  (May 29, 2009)  —  According to a new diet book by an East Carolina University scientist, carbohydrates are the target in the fight to lose weight, but simply eating fewer carbs isn't the secret.

"The Dudek Diet Plan" (Outskirts Press, $24.95) is based on how the body processes carbohydrates, said Dr. Ronald W. Dudek, a professor of anatomy and cell biology at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. In it, Dudek explains that while people should eat fewer carbohydrates to lose weight, the body needs – even craves – varying amounts of carbohydrates to carry out its metabolic needs.

"Years ago, the idea of how you got fat was you ate too much sugar or fat," Dudek said. "In other words, public enemy No. 1 was fat." As a result, he said, in the 1970s, federal diet guidelines promoted carbohydrates and pilloried fat.

"That's when obesity skyrocketed," Dudek said, adding that typical approaches to losing weight don't have lasting effects. "‘I eat too much or I don't exercise enough.' That is wrong. That fails 99.9 percent of the time," he said.

Instead of fat, Dudek said the main factor controlling weight gain is the amount of insulin in the bloodstream. Carbohydrates, he said, trigger insulin production, which causes fat to be stored in body tissue. But simply cutting them out of one's diet won't work, he added.

"I'm not trying to make carbohydrates the bad guy," Dudek said. "You have to get control of them, and the control is 40 to 60 grams a day."

That's a couple of ounces of potatoes, a handful of nuts, half an orange or a couple of slices of pizza, he said. However, he added, the main source of carbohydrates for many people is refined sugars in soft drinks.

Reducing carbohydrates while varying the amount each day is the key, he said.

"What your body likes is fluctuation," Dudek said. "We have a 20-gram day of carbs. Then we go up to 40 grams, 60 grams. Your body likes this."

His diet plan provides people with plenty of calories – one woman who sent him an e-mail after starting it said she had rarely eaten so much for breakfast – and a variety that keeps the body's metabolism happy.

The diet includes omelets, fish, steak, vegetables, salads with carbohydrate-free dressing and no-carb protein shakes. When hungry between meals, Dudek recommends meat or cheese snacks.

"It turns out to be very balanced," Dudek said. "After eight weeks, you have a sustainable meal plan where your metabolism won't make it fail."

Dudek, 59 and a regular exerciser, lost 22 pounds after eight weeks on the diet.   

"It's not the number of calories. It's the number of carbohydrates. Most of the people, especially women, tell me it's too much food," he said.

Dudek will be signing copies of his book at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at Barnes & Noble in the University Commons shopping center. A video of an interview Dudek conducted with a local radio and TV show is posted on YouTube. Information is also available on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/ronnyld.

The book is Dudek's first consumer publication. He has also written 12 medical textbooks.

Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482