Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is low-carb the best way to lose weight?

English: A wooden table containing: a ladle fu...Whole grains can be part of a healthy diet.
A very small part.
Image via Wikipedia


I grew up with the old-school Food Pyramid. The one with grains and cereals at the bottom. It recommended six to eleven servings per DAY of breads, cereals, rice and pasta.
The USDA's original food pyramid from 1992.The Food Pyramid I grew up with, now recognized as utterly bogus.Image via Wikipedia
What kind of money did the grain farmers have to throw at Congress to make THAT happen, I wonder?

Check out today's recommendations at the new MyPlate.gov website.  For a woman age 31-50, the new recommendation is six "ounce-equivalents," with at least three of those being whole grains. (For women over 50, the recommendation drops to five ounces. )

English: Healthy nutrition pyramid with 7 to 9...This one is more like it. Memorize this & make your plates match it.Image via Wikipedia

A sandwich on thinly sliced bread, for instance, contains two servings. Half an English muffin is an ounce-equivalent serving. A small square of cornbread. A mini bagel. The bagels that fit in your toaster are two to three servings. A large bagel from the bakery could be double that. So make sure you're not eating any other bread, pasta, rice or cereal that day... and make sure that bagel is whole grain!

There is no mention any more of anyone needing to eat eleven servings of grain per day. YIKES!

Most of us are probably eating two to four times as much from this food group every day as we need. And a lot of people are finding that their bodies react to overeating from this food group more rapidly than any other (besides maybe sugar/alcohol, which is also in the carb category).  Low-carb diets are popular because they work. Eating fewer starchy carbohydrate-laden foods tends to lead to rapid weight loss, especially if you were overeating from this food group prior to changing your habits (and who isn't?)
Grains, the largest food group in many nutriti...But it's delicious!
Image via Wikipedia


But studies have shown that the weight loss from many low-carb diets tapers off after six months and people regain the weight. These diets are simply too restrictive to maintain long-term. And some of the low-carb diets are extremely unhealthy. They don't discriminate between starchy, simple carbs like bagels or rice — which the body instantly converts to sugars —  and wholesome, nourishing carbs like vegetables, which offer the body fiber, nutrition, and an appealing variety of flavors/textures.

I prefer a diet that's rich in lean protein, healthy fats (like olive oil, nuts and avocado) and the widest possible variety of fresh vegetables. Vegetables are generally very low in calories, so eating them doesn't raise your percent of calories from carbohydrate very much. A cup of raw spinach, for instance, has 7 calories while a half-cup of rice has over 100.

My rules are simple: Plan every meal and snack around a source of lean protein  — chicken breast, turkey, pork loin, lean beef, fish, egg white — and as many vegetables as you can manage (slaws, salads, plates of raw veggies, soups, and mixed vegetable dishes are my favorite ways to get a variety in every day.) Fill in around your meats, eggs and vegetables with small portions of nuts, yogurt, flaxseed and whole grains. Eat as little else as possible.

It's really that easy to understand, and it's only hard to do at first.



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