What Is the Schwarzbein Principle?

The Schwarzbein Principle is a health and eating program developed by Diana Schwarzbein, MD,  a California-based physician. The 5-step diet program promotes weight loss and well-being by addressing the connection between hormones and body fat.

What Is the Schwarzbein Principle?

The Schwarzbein Principle is a low-carbohydrate diet. If you go on the diet, you’ll eat plenty of protein and a lot of good fats.

 You’ll stop eating processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and refined grains. You’ll also say goodbye to salt, alcohol, and caffeine.

There are different steps in the Schwarzbein program. Some are designed for healing and others for maintenance. You will most likely achieve weight loss during the healing program. This is the period during which you decrease your carbohydrate intake. The number of carbs you consume is determined by your weight and activity level.

Dr. Schwarzbein says the healing program is not meant to be permanent. She says that once you improve your metabolism then you should transition to maintenance. During this part of the program, you begin to add more carbs to your diet.

During the maintenance program there is no formula for the amount of carbohydrate to consume. Instead, you learn “instinctively” to eat the right number of carbs based on the way your body reacts to them.

If you start to regain weight, you can go back to the healing program.

The Schwarzbein Diet Food

So what do you eat on the Schwarzbein Principle diet? You might want to fill your fridge with butter, eggs and a lot of meat. These high-fat foods will be the staples of your diet.

In the early steps of the plan, your carb intake will be drastically reduced.

Carbohydrates include many of the foods that we are used to eating, such as grains, fruit, and certain vegetables. But on this program, you’ll have to throw away the cereals, breads and pasta. You will be able to add some good carbohydrate foods later in the program.

Schwarzbein Principle Health Benefits

Dr. Schwarzbein says that eating too many carbs causes insulin levels to spike. She says this leads to insulin resistance, which in turn, causes weight gain. She also links the insulin increase to diseases like arthritis. By cutting back on carbs, Dr. Schwarzbein says that you can lower your insulin levels. She says that healthy insulin levels and other lifestyle changes create successful weight loss and improved health.

Schwarzbein Principle Pros and Cons

In my opinion, there is some sound advice in the Schwarzbein Principle books, even if you don’t subscribe to the point of view of the doctor. If you decide the diet isn’t for you, there’s still some good advice to take away from the book.

For example, she says we shouldn’t skip meals. Many of us have learned from experience that skipping meals can lead to over-eating later in the day. So this is a smart eating tip to follow for many dieters.

Also, Dr. Schwarzbein’s promotes a diet of real foods that are unprocessed. That’s a healthy eating policy for anyone, whether you’re trying to lose weight or not. And she suggests that dieters cut out caffeine and alcohol to improve health, and also limit their intake of added  salt, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.

So what are the downsides to this eating plan? Convenience goes out the window. There is no room for fast food, junk food or processed foods like frozen microwave dinners. If you are part of a full household, this diet might be harder to stick to. When your family members bring “forbidden” foods into the house it may be hard for you to avoid them.

You may also experience side effects while you follow the Schwarzbein Principle. As with other carb-reducing diets, it’s likely that you’ll experience constipation. Other side effects include heartburn, bloating and water retention. Dr. Schwarzbein says if you do experience these side effects that they will pass as soon as you become more accustomed to your new way of eating.

Does The Schwarzbein Principle Work?

You’re not guaranteed that you will lose weight on the Schwarzbein Diet. In fact, if weight loss is your goal, you may need to be patient. It can take months to “heal” your metabolism and achieve weight loss on the program.

Then you need to follow the maintenance plan for life. So whether or not this diet works depends on your commitment. Can you stay on this kind of plan forever? Will you go back to your old way of eating out of boredom? When people fall off the maintenance phase of a low-carb diet, the weight usually comes back with a vengeance.

Remember, whatever diet you choose, each program is designed to help you to eat less. When you consume fewer calories, you lose weight.  If the Schwarzbein Principle inspires you and you feel like it’s a program you can stick to for life, then it may be the best program for you.

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