Can certain starches really aid weight loss?
Just as we’ve been hearing more and more about good and bad fats, diet gurus are starting to talk more about good and bad carbohydrates. And word is getting around.
On her television show, Oprah Winfrey claimed to have lost weight by switching from bad carbs to good. Likewise, many diet programs, such as Body-for-Life, tout the health benefits of good carbs. But are there really such things as good and bad carbohydrates?
“Some carbs are better than others, but it’s not really a question of one carb being ‘good’ and one being ‘bad,'” says Jack Alhadeff, PhD, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
“If you’re eating to get energy for physical activity right away, simple carbs — pasta, white bread, processed cereals, and the like — work well. If someone is heavy or wants to manage weight, it is smart to chose high-fiber carbohydrates.”
Why? Because all carbohydrates are broken down into sugar, or glucose, which is the body’s fuel. Carbohydrates with little fiber break down quickly. Those foods with carbohydrates trapped in fiber take longer to break down. The rate at which this happens can be represented on what nutritionists call the glycemic index.
Foods high on the glycemic index turn to glucose fast. But that speed can cause a spike in levels of the hormone insulin, which the body needs to process glucose into physical energy. Foods low on the index — sweet potatoes, brown rice, leafy greens, fat-free milk — break down slowly and result in lower insulin levels.
“Unless you’re a diabetic, glycemic index may not be all that important,” says Alhadeff, who adds that since most of us eat a variety of foods in a meal, the accuracy of the index can be questionable.
But what about the notion that glucose from high-index foods is more likely to be stored as fat?
“The scientific literature is very clear that eating carbohydrates that are embedded in plant cellulose — complex carbohydrates — is always better,” says Nagi Kumar, PhD, director of clinical nutrition at the Moffitt Cancer Center and professor of human nutrition at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “But the reasons it is better are not because it somehow lessens or alters fat storage.”
She says that fiber-rich carbohydrates increase the bulk of the meal, making you feel fuller. This in turn, helps moderate the amount of food you eat.
So, what is fiber, exactly?
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Nutritionists describe soluble fiber as a sticky substance that is found in fruit, vegetables, dried beans and peas, and oat products. Insoluble fiber, which is gritty in texture, accounts for 70% of the fiber in our diets, mostly from wheat bran.
The Benefits of High-Fiber Carbs
We eat way too many calories and way too many empty calories,” she says. “Fiber can help you avoid overeating. We’ve also found that fiber can bind with cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus lowering blood cholesterol.”
Another important point about fiber-rich foods is that they tend to be loaded with phytochemicals that appear to have anticancer functions, says Kumar.
“Pertaining to cancer, we’ve found 65 or so non-nutrients and nutrients that have action against cancer,” she says. “We’ve seen soy, lycopene, bicarbanol, to name just a few of these, have significant effect against various cancers.”
Along with these benefits and its role in weight maintenance, fiber helps prevent the following:
- Diverticulosis — an intestinal disease where pockets, which can become infected, develop in the intestinal lining
The next time you have a choice about what to buy at the store — for instance, between fluffy, white bread and a dark, brown loaf of whole wheat — what do you do?
“Buy the bread that you have to drag out of the store, because the loaf is so heavy and dense,” says Kumar. “Everything comes down to the amount of fiber you can get into your food.”
If one of your 2020 goals is to lose a few pounds for better health or to rock that LBD that’s gotten a little snug, it’s best to tackle diet changes in a healthy way.
Here’s the skinny: Studies in the last few years have shown us that eating fat is not what makes us fat.
Consuming too many calories of any kind causes weight gain. But swapping out processed carbs for nutrient-dense foods will make you feel full faster, which can help you avoid overeating and lose weight.
Up until 2015, common dietary guidelines suggested that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbs. Aiming for a lower percentage gives you a few health benefits, including possible weight loss.
A super low carb diet (like the keto diet) encourages your body to go into ketosis, which is when it starts burning stored fat instead of sugar for fuel.
In a small 2003 study of teens with higher body weights, participants who ate a low carb diet lost more than twice as much weight as those who ate a low fat diet (about 9 kilograms on average versus about 4 kilograms).
Since neither group counted calories, food composition seemed to be the defining factor.
A 2006 study also found that a super low carb diet is better than a low fat diet for dropping pounds fast. And a 2004 study linked low carb diets to decreased insulin levels.
So what exactly constitutes a healthy low carb diet? Obviously, you’ll cut back on processed carbs (buh-bye for now, sugar and soft bread). But beyond that, you’ll eat more protein, veggies, and — thank you, sweet baby Jesus — fat.
Here are a few health boosts you might get from a low carb lifestyle:
- lower blood sugar
- lower blood pressure
- a boost in HDL (the good cholesterol!)
- feeling less hungry
- weight loss
You’ll lose excess weight faster and feel healthier if you limit your carbs to somewhere between 50 and 150 grams per day (exact numbers vary according to your total caloric intake).
The beauty is that when you’re cutting carbs, you can still smash meals without counting calories. Since fat and protein are denser than carbs like bread and potato chips, you’ll fill up faster. It’s a food group swap, not a restriction.
Suddenly scaling back your carb intake can have some unpleasant side effects, including:
- bad breath
- constipation or diarrhea
- skin rash
And FYI: Restricting your carb intake long-term can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, bone loss, and gastrointestinal issues and increase your risk for some chronic conditions.
There’s no one-size-fits-all carb goal. The strict diet culture of your high school years? Shake it off.
Your ideal number depends on your lifestyle and goals. If your version of getting healthy means losing a lot of weight, your new mantra is “How low can you go?”
If your #goals look more like lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides, shoot for a moderate range.
Wanna raise your HDL (the good stuff!) while lowering your LDL (the bad) cholesterol? Your low carb goals might not be so low after all. Cutting sugar and refined wheat (the worst offenders) might be the only adjustment you need.
Here are a few more factors to consider:
- Age. Your recommended caloric intake varies by age, so your carb count should follow suit.
- Daily activity. Runners, you already know the glorious benefits of carb-loading before a race. But a coffee “run” for a daily latte? Yeah, not so much. Be honest in your assessment of your daily activity. How many carbs do you really need?
- Body composition. If you’re a walking, talking gun show, your body requires more carb fuel than someone who has little to no muscle mass.
Say it louder for the peeps with diabetes in the back
If you have a metabolic condition like type 2 diabetes or obesity, it’s even more important to make sure you’re noshing on quality, nutrient-dense foods.
Start by cutting out processed, refined carbs and replacing them with healthy fats and lean proteins. Since your body is extra sensitive to all the carb-y things, low carb might be a great option for you.
Remember to talk to your doctor or dietitian before making any big diet changes so you can rest assured you’re choosing the safest, healthiest option for your condition.
Whether you’re jumping on the low carb train to shed some weight or to feel healthier in general, it’s pretty common to drop a few pounds within the first week of cutting carbs.
But don’t get too excited: That’s all water weight. The bloat has gotta go before your body starts eating into its fat stores. After week one, healthy weight loss is a slow, steady burn.
When it comes to carbs, the trick is to focus on complex carbohydrates that will make you feel full instead of simple, refined carbs that do not satiate you for long. That’s why we’ve put together a list of ways to eat carbohydrates and still lose weight.
Choose the right carbs
Take potatoes, for example – full of fiber, filling, and low energy density. On another hand, potato chips, deep-fried in oil, with salt and pepper, and maybe even a dipping sauce. Now you have a really fattening meal that is easy to over-consume.
Instead of chips, consider roasting potato wedges with olive oil and rosemary as a healthier substitute.
Throw in some berries
Researchers suggest berries can slow down the digestion and absorption of starch. A study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming 150 grams of strawberries (about a cup) with a 50-gram slice of white bread decreased insulin response by 36% more than that of berry-less bread eaters.
A mixture of strawberries, bilberries, cranberries, and black currants was even more successful, lowering the glycemic profile of white bread by 38%. Study authors credit the findings to berry polyphenols, and this is good news for you because evidence shows that a diet containing moderate amounts of low GI carbohydrates is especially good for weight loss.
Drink green tea
Washing a high-carb meal with a calming cup of green tea may be a good diet technique, according to Penn State scientists. Their review, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, showed that an antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) when mixed with carbohydrates, may help to control starvation hormones and balanced metabolism by lowering blood glucose levels.
Mice fed EGCG and corn starch had a 50% drop in blood sugar spikes relative to mice that had not been fed the compound. Researchers claim that one and a half cups of green tea are enough to see the same benefits.
You’ll slash carbs from your diet by selecting a fresh apple over an apple muffin, but you won’t absolutely remove the carbohydrate count. Believe it or not, all fruits and vegetables contain some carbohydrates. In fact, one apple has 34 grams of carbs-more than you would find in two slices of whole wheat bread. And since juice extracts the satiating fiber from whole fruit, a cup of fresh fruit juice will do more harm than good.
Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have shown that individuals who eat one or two servings of fruit juice per day have raised their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21%. And a second report in the journal Nature showed that liquid carbohydrates were 17 percent less filling than solid carbohydrates. As a rule of thumb: eat your fruits; don’t drink them.
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What is “carb backloading,” and does it actually work?
Carbs have been the topic of much conversation lately, especially as they pertain to weight loss. From the trendy keto diet, which forgoes carbs almost completely, to the concept of carb cycling, which allows people on low-carb diets to adjust their intake based on when their tougher training days are, there are lots of ways people are experimenting with their carbohydrate consumption.
One approach growing in popularity: carb backloading, the idea that eating all of your carbs later in the day can actually help you lose weight. To many who have followed the conventional diet wisdom of spreading carb (and calorie) intake out evenly throughout the day, this approach may sound totally off. So does it work, and should you consider trying it if you *love* eating carbs at night? Here’s what nutrition pros have to say. (BTW, here’s why healthy carbs definitely belong in your diet.)
What is carb backloading?
The most basic principle of carb backloading is simply eating most of your carbs later in the day. But to understand the rationale behind this approach, we have to talk about insulin and insulin sensitivity. “Insulin is like a key to your cells that helps transport and store energy that can be used by the body for fuel,” says Emmie Satrazemis, a registered dietitian and nutrition director at Trifecta. Insulin increases, along with blood sugar, after you eat carbs. “‘Insulin sensitivity’ simply refers to how efficient this system is at any given time. Your body’s insulin sensitivity is highest when you are craving carbs or energy the most, so after a period of fasting or after intense exercise.”
So what does that have to do with carb backloading? “The theory of carb backloading is based on the fact that insulin sensitivity is higher earlier in the day, which promotes carbohydrate absorption into your muscles and fat tissue,” Satrazemis says. Storing carbs in your muscle tissue is a good thing, since your body can use them as energy throughout the day and even during your workouts. Storing carbs in fat tissue isn’t as desirable, she says, but that’s part of the process.
“Carb backloading requires you to eat all of your carbs later in the day to promote using fat for fuel during the day, and suggests you also work out in the evening to promote better carb absorption into your muscles.” By doing this, you can, in theory, lose fat faster, since you’re mainly using fat as fuel during the day. (This is kind of similar to the idea behind the keto diet.)
But does carb backloading work?
Advocates of carb backloading point to research showing that eating carbs at night can help reduce appetite and ultimately help people lose weight. The only problem? “It is easy to prove just about anything looking at individual studies with small sample sizes,” Satrazemis explains. In other words, just because something worked in a couple of small studies doesn’t mean you should try it in IRL or that it’s the only approach that works. “Currently, there is not enough evidence to show that when you eat carbohydrates affects your weight-loss capabilities,” she says. “Without randomized controlled studies, much of this is just applied theory.”
And in theory, carb backloading can be a good weight-loss strategy-in certain cases. “Carb backloading works best in two scenarios,” says Mike Israetel, Ph.D., head science consultant at Renaissance Periodization.
“The first is for folks who exercise later in the evening. For them, eating carbs before and after their workouts helps optimize their muscle gains and recovery outcomes.” That just happens to be at night. “The second scenario is for individuals who struggle with evening hunger during dieting, but really don’t have as much of an appetite earlier in the morning. For them, eating more of their carbs when they are actually hungrier in the evenings can let them stick to their diet plan calories without driving them crazy with hunger or making them stuff food down in the mornings when they don’t feel like eating.”
As far as evidence that working out and eating your carbs later in the day is best for fat loss? “The evidence, taken on the net balance, is actually pretty equivocal as far as timing is concerned,” Israetel says. “Especially for health, but for performance too.” Essentially, carb backloading probably works, but not because it’s better than other ways of timing your carb intake. More likely it’s because it can help some people stick to their allotted amount of carbs (and other macros) for the day, or allows them to time their carbs around their evening workout, which makes most sense for nighttime exercisers.
Should you try carb backloading?
Maybe. “If you train later in the day and/or you struggle with hunger at night, it might be the right choice for you,” Israetel says. “If not, then another timing option may be better.”
There are some other limited cases when delaying carb intake until later in the day could be a good idea, although true carb backloading probably isn’t necessary to achieve the desired results. “If someone came to me and told me that they get horrible GI distress when they consume anything before their morning run, I might suggest that they consume a moderate carb meal the night before, and wait until after their run to consume carbs again,” says Edwina Clark, a registered dietitian and head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly.
“Similarly, if a type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic client came to me with a long history of high glucose levels after consuming any carbohydrate in the morning, I might suggest that they wait until their midmorning snack to add in carb-rich foods.” These are definitely isolated instances, though. “For most, I recommend spacing carbohydrate intake throughout the day, with particular emphasis on carbs before and after high-intensity exercise,” Clark adds.
If you do decide to go for the carb backloading approach, know that quality and quantity still matters. “Whole-grain, high-fiber carbohydrate choices like whole-grain bread and pasta, quinoa, sweet potato, brown rice, oats, and beans assist with satiety, digestive health, cholesterol control, and more,” Clark says. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll definitely want to focus on these, along with keeping an eye on quantity.
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While reducing fat in just one part of your body — known as “spot reduction” — is not possible, reducing your total body fat will help you lose fat in your belly area. This can be achieved by choosing your food sources carefully. Certain types of fats and carbohydrates will help you to lose fats, while others will make it much more difficult.
Remove trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are created when oil is partially hydrogenated: hydrogen is added to the liquid oil to make it more solid. Trans fats are typically used in fast food or industrial food production — it’s commonly found in margarine, frozen pizza, pie, cookies, donuts and fried foods. Eating trans fats has been associated with weight gain and obesity.
Include healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. The Harvard School of Public Health collated research that showed two important factors: following a low-fat diet does not mean you are likely to have low body fat, and including healthy fats in your diet is linked to a healthier weight and better overall health. Use olive, peanut or canola oil in cooking, as these contain healthful monounsaturated fats. Add walnuts, flaxseeds and fish to your diet for polyunsaturated fats.
Avoid highly processed or refined carb sources. These can include foods such as white bread, pasta and rice; pastries; candy; sodas; and dairy with lots of added sugars. These foods rarely give you any fiber or other nutrients that contribute to a sense of fullness, so you tend to overeat them. They are broken down quickly into simple sugars and leave you craving more — these refined carb sources can really interfere with your efforts to lose weight.
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In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a fat-free and low-fat diet trend. Bodybuilders avoided fat when dieting down. Snack foods started carrying the low or no fat label to improve sales. The worst part was the increase in refined sugar use.
Americans heard “fats are bad,” so they assumed carbs were good. There are two problems with this: fat is not bad. It’s necessary to balance your hormones and keep your heart in good health via omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The other problem: the nation took the carbs are good statement way over the top and starting eating loads of sugar.
We rode the crest of the wave with carbs back then; now we’re in the trough. Everything is about low-carb today. The ketogenic diet has exploded. Even fruit has been demonized.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Nope, apples are bad because carbs” -Ketogenic Dieters
I don’t know about you, but statements like that are an obvious red flag to me.
My issue with low-carb dieting stems from two main things.
1. Low carb diets typically promote increased fat intake
This is detrimental to big eaters who are trying to lose weight — 1g of carbs is 4 calories and 1g of fat is 9 calories. What’s even worse? Fat elicits the smallest metabolic response by far. Only about 5% of the calories consumed from fat are burned via the thermogenic effect of digestion.
Carbs though? Carbs can burn up to 25% of the calories they contain simply through digestion. It’s the fibrous and complex carbs that accomplish this. Do the math. That means smart carb choices will only net 3 calories at the end of the day, while the same amount of fat nets 8.55 calories. That’s almost 3 times as many calories you get from fat! So, by the gram, carbs have fewer than half the calories fat has AND, when chosen smartly, can burn more than twice the amount of calories by simply digesting them. So why does everyone go low-carb to lose weight? I don’t know man. Carbs are good.
Well, that’s only half true. I do know why people go low carb: because it produces fast “results.” Cut out carbs, and you WILL lose weight fast. I can’t lie.
The problem: that weight is not fat and will immediately return as soon as you eat a sodium-filled, high-carb cheat meal. So, unless you never want to eat carbs again, that weight is going to come back (just as fast as it came off) and it’s going to be disappointing since you will have thought you lost weight.
The explanation: that weight you lost was simply your body depleting itself of glycogen (your body’s means of storing carbohydrate in the muscle). Stop eating carbs and these stores deflate. In other words, you have just as much fat on you whether you are glycogen-depleted or not; I don’t care how much the number on the scale goes down.
It’s also worth noting that you’ll be mentally cloudy and grumpy since your brain functions almost entirely on carbohydrates. Not to mention you will feel physically weak and sluggish since your muscles will be running on fumes.
The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. Keep reading for the explanation.
2. People like and crave carbs
How do you expect to stick to your diet for any decent length of time if you cut out all of your favorite foods?
If you’re losing weight, your body is going to crave foods. The best approach, in my opinion, is to incorporate those foods you crave just a little bit every day. Yes, that means eating a cookie if you’re dying for a cookie. Otherwise, cheat day is going to hit and you’re going to down two and a half boxes of Oreos because “it doesn’t count.”
Ever hear that your body can’t process all the calories you consume on cheat day? Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The human body is incredibly efficient in fact. Believe me, I’ve eaten 10,000+ calories on multiple occasions (the silly things I do to get views on Youtube…) and you bet I gained 2-3 pounds each time after the initial bloating went away.
Fortunately, I know how weight loss works so losing that weight is easy. How does it work? Well, I already said: by burning more calories than you consume. Forget the whole cutting carbs thing. Think about it like this. Calories are energy. The first law of thermodynamics states energy cannot be created or destroyed. If you eat X calories, you either burn them via physical activity or store them via fat storage.
If you are engaging in physical activity and the number of calories you consumed was insufficient to supply the energy you needed to perform that activity, guess where your body gets the extra energy it needs? The energy stored on itself, AKA your fat stores.
I’ll say it one more time to drill it into your head: you have to be eating in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
In fact, you can lose weight eating Twinkies and Doritos. Don’t believe me? Look up the Twinkie diet. A nutrition professor at Kansas State University, Mark Haub, ran an experiment on himself to prove the point that calories determine weight loss. He restricted himself to 1800 calories daily for 10 weeks eating only Twinkies and Doritos. The result? He lost 27 lbs, decreased his LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) by 20%, and increased his HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) by 20%. Guess what Twinkies and Doritos are primarily composed of? Carbs. If someone told you that carbs are the key to weight loss, they lied.
I’m not saying to eat like he did – at least not for every meal. Despite improvements in his LDL and HDL cholesterol, Twinkies and Doritos are obviously not healthy foods. He went to an extreme to prove the commonly overlooked law of weight loss: you must be burning more energy than you are consuming in order to lose weight that stays off.
I suggest increasing your healthy carb intake: fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, whole grain breads and pastas. Not only will this kill your cravings, promoting diet longevity and consistency. It will allow you to eat more at the end of the day.
Why do we take diet to extremes?
Avoid carbs. Avoid fats. What ever happened to eating a balanced diet?
It’s all because people want results fast. Nobody wants to exercise. Nobody wants to diet. Nobody wants to work to lose weight. They overlook the fact that it took them years to pack on the extra 10, 20, 30, 40 pounds and think they’re going to lose it in a couple weeks. While it won’t take years to lose that weight (if done right), it’s going to take months.
I know this article will get a bad rap from some low-carb dieters out there because people simply cannot accept that their way isn’t the best way. I never said low-carb doesn’t work. My issue is that low-carb dieters will tell me it’s the only thing that works.
The one and only requirement you need to lose weight is this: eat fewer calories than you burn.
Carbs have certainly been put through the wringer lately. They’ve been deemed as a “bad” food by many who feel that carbs will completely destroy your weight loss efforts, which is not true. While there are some carbs that aren’t helpful for your weight loss goals (mainly simple carbs and foods with a lot of added sugars), most carbs—including the best carb for weight loss—are actually stuffed with an incredibly important nutrient for your body: dietary fiber.
Fiber has been proven to help with overall weight loss and management, which is why it’s vital to get a significant amount of fiber in your diet. Turning to carbs high in fiber is great for your body, and there’s one carb that’s stuffed with fiber that makes it the best carb for weight loss, and that’s black beans!
For even more healthy eating tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Why black beans are the best carb for weight loss
Black beans are oftentimes referred to as a superfood, and honestly, it lives up to the hype. Black beans are naturally gluten-free and plant-based. They’re incredibly high in protein, folate, and of course, loaded with fiber. 8 grams per a 1/2 cup serving, to be exact.
According to the USDA, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. 8 grams of fiber from a 1/2 cup of black beans is a significant amount of fiber coming from one serving of a carb!
Black beans also have very little fat content. A 1/2 cup serving doesn’t even have a full gram of fat in it. And yet, it is packed with protein (7 grams) and rounds out to 20 grams of carbohydrate.
Plus, if you pair black beans with some brown rice, you are getting all nine essential amino acids, which makes a complete source of protein. Vegetarians, rejoice!
If you’re looking to get more fiber in your diet, here are 20 Different Ways to Eat 28 Grams of Fiber a Day.
Black beans aren’t the only carbs to help you lose weight
Even though black beans are packed with nutrients—especially fiber—in all honesty, it’s not the only carb that will help you lose weight. There are numerous other types of healthy carbs packed with fiber that are also good to have in your overall diet—like these 28 Carbs That Won’t Make You Fat.
Quinoa, for example, is also packed with fiber, and even contains all nine essential amino acids on its own. 1/2 cup of quinoa contains 4 grams of fiber.
Oats are also a great source of fiber (4 grams per 1/2 cup) and have even been proven to help with longevity.
Other whole grains and even fruits with a high amount of carbohydrates—like apples—are great sources of fiber.
However, if you had to choose a carbohydrate that’s packed with fiber that will help with your overall weight loss efforts, black beans are certainly a great choice. They provide you with all kinds of great nutrients for your body.
To get you started, you can try cooking a few of our recipes featuring black beans like this Vegetarian Black Bean Omelet, this Cuban Tomato Black Bean Soup, or even these Chicken and Black Bean Nachos.
A new diet plan shows you how you can enjoy eating carbs while getting slim and fit – for life.
June 17, 2016 4:42pm
A new diet plan shows you how you can enjoy eating carbs while getting slim and fit – for life.
Carbohydrates have had a bad rap over the past couple of decades, with women around the world shunning the bread basket and even avoiding fruit and vegies in the belief that these foods will make them fat, bloated and sluggish. But a new diet plan from the US reveals that carbs don’t have to be the enemy.
Author Frances Largeman-Roth is the senior food and nutrition editor at Health magazine, and co-wrote The Carb Lover’s Diet (Hamlyn, $24.99) with her editor-in-chief, Ellen Kunes. Like many women, Largeman-Roth is no stranger to dieting.
“I’ve been on some type of diet since I was 15 years old,” she explains. Largeman-Roth estimates that she has spent around 36 years counting calories and generally obsessing about her weight.
Are you carbo-phobic?
A self-confessed carb-lover, Longman-Roth says she was tired of feeling guilty about every slice of bread or mouthful of pasta she ate.
“We’ve learned to fear carbs because we’ve been told that they make us gain weight,” Longman-Roth says. She believes this fear is unfounded, and says eating the right kind of carbs – in the form of wholegrains, fruit and vegetables – can actually help us lose weight, and keep it off.
Her belief is backed up by scientific research, with a study from the University of Colorado revealing that far from being the enemy, eating the right kind of carbohydrates is the best way to get and stay slim.
The five golden rules
The beauty of the carb-lovers diet is that it embraces a wide range of foods designed to make you feel your best. Here are the five rules to follow:
1. Eat a “carbstar” at every meal
Carbstars are carbohydrates which are high in resistant starch. Resistant starch is so named because it resists digestion. Resistant starch is a weight-loss powerhouse because it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream or get broken down into glucose. This means that it does not raise blood sugar. Foods high in resistant starch include bananas, oats, beans and lentils, potatoes, wholewheat pasta, barley, brown rice, peas, rye and pumpernickel bread and polenta. Each of these contains at least 1g of resistant starch per serving. (see below for more ‘good carbs’)
2. Balance your plate
Carbstars should take up roughly one quarter of your plate. The rest of your plate should be filled with lean meats, low-fat dairy products, good fats and fruit and vegies.
3. Be portion savvy
“You can eat the carbs you crave at every meal,” says Largeman-Roth, “that said, you do need to follow our portion advice.” As a rough guide, this equates to one banana, 125g cannellini beans or one small baked potato.
4. Never deprive yourself
Chocolate, pasta, wine, bread and even chips make an appearance on the carb-lovers menu. The reason being, says Largeman-Roth, that when we’re forbidden to eat our favourite foods, we often end up bingeing on them. “I don’t know about you, but if I’m told I can’t eat pizza, I crave it, then break down and eat about five slices,” she says. On the carb-lover’s diet, you can indulge daily – in moderation.
5. Build a power pantry
As with any diet, the key to success is having healthy foods on hand at all times. These include: barley, brown rice, canned beans, polenta, quinoa and wholemeal bread and pasta in the cupboard; berries, broccoli, carrots, low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, olives and salmon in the fridge; and apples, avocados, bananas, pears and tomatoes in your fruit bowl.
Phase 1: Kick-start your diet
The carb-lovers eating plan consists of a seven-day kick-start diet that includes 1200 calories per day. You can adhere to the diet or mix and match the meals. A typical day’s menu can include a banana smoothie for breakfast, chicken and salad pitta sandwich for lunch and chicken pasta primavera for dinner, with Greek yoghurt or hummus with vegies as snacks.
To maximise your likelihood of success on this phase of the diet, Largeman-Roth advises that you avoid distractions such as the TV at mealtimes and eat slowly and mindfully, as well as staying hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. At the end of the seven days, you should be at least 2.5kg lighter, she claims.
Phase 2: The 21-day Carblovers Immersion Plan
This part of the plan allows larger portions, a wider variety of foods and a few treats. By continuing to follow the plan, Largeman-Roth says most dieters lose another 3kg. There are 75 simple, delicious recipes to support the diet, including blueberry oat pancakes, pesto turkey club sandwiches, bistro-style steak with new potatoes and warm pear with cinnamon ricotta.
The final word
Once you’ve completed the four-week diet, there’s a maintenance program which includes a chapter on exercising, strategies to help you stick to the plan for life, and a guide to making healthy choices when eating out.
As Largeman-Roth explains, “This is about losing weight and keeping it off forever. You’ll only be able to do that if all the foods you love are on the menu.”
- Beans and lentils
- Wholewheat pasta
- Brown rice
- Rye bread
- White bread
- White rice
- Sweetened soft drinks
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These days, low-carb and ketogenic diets are all the rage, and for good reason — they work really well for many people who want to lose weight and improve their health.
If you’re currently on a low-carb diet, or are considering starting one, and are feeling confused about the process, keep reading. Here is a list of carbs to avoid to lose weight.
Benefits of a Low-Carb Diet
People who eat a low-carb diet typically have an easier time feeling satiated than people who eat lots of carbohydrates.
This is because, when your carbohydrates are low, your protein and fat intake is generally higher. Protein and fat are more satiating since they take longer for the body to digest.
Low-carb diets can also be very healing for people who have autoimmune diseases or poor gut health. A healthy low-carb diet can serve as a type of reset and give the body a chance to reduce inflammation and heal itself.
List of Carbs to Avoid to Lose Weight
As you can see, there are lots of reasons to consider a low-carb diet. If you do decide to take on this endeavor, these are the high-carb foods you ought to avoid.
Whether it’s white or whole wheat, bread is loaded with carbs. Even high-fiber bread is still too carb-heavy for people who want to stick to a low-carb diet.
2. High-Sugar Fruit
Fruit isn’t totally off limits on a low-carb diet, but you should steer clear of high-sugar varieties like bananas, dates, and mangos.
3. Starchy Vegetables
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, and some squashes are too high in carbohydrates for low-carb dieters.
4. Sweetened Yogurt
Plain, full-fat yogurt is usually fairly low-carb. Sweetened varieties, though, are often loaded with extra sugar.
5. Low-Fat Salad Dressings
Low-fat salad dressings are usually filled with sugar and artificial sweeteners to make them taste good. Stick to the full-fat version instead.
Some people on low-carb diets think honey is fine because it’s “natural.” It’s true that honey is a natural sweetener, but it’s still pure sugar.
7. Chips and Crackers
These tasty snacks are made from potatoes or wheat in most cases and are typically full of carbohydrates.
There are lots of benefits of stopping drinking, including weight loss.
Alcohol is not technically a carbohydrate. But, many alcoholic beverages contain carbohydrates and added sugar.
Unless it’s specifically labeled as a low-carb pasta, pasta is off the table for low-carb dieters since it’s made from wheat.
Fruit juice, like honey, is off-limits if you’re on a low-carb diet. It may be natural, but it’s also filled with sugar. It also doesn’t contain any of the beneficial fiber that you’ll get if you just eat a piece of fruit.
Looking for More Weight Loss Tips?
If you’re ready to give the low-carb lifestyle a try, be sure to keep this list of carbs to avoid to lose weight on hand, at least in the beginning. Soon, you’ll know it by heart.
Not too keen on a low-carb diet? Want to see what other weight loss options are out there?
If so, be sure to check out some of our health-related lists today. We’ve got tons of great health and weight loss tips that will help you reach your goals.