If you think a weight loss diet means giving up carbs, think again. The secret to losing weight is to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates. Throw away the white rice and start making smarter choices.
1. Learn the definition of carbohydrates. Along with protein and fat, carbohydrates are a major component of your diet. These sugars, starches, and fibers are an easily accessible source of energy for your body and brain.
2. Understand refined carbohydrates. White rice and white bread are the result of grinding and processing that strips away fiber. Nutrients may get added back in, but the original whole foods are still superior.
3. Cut back on simple carbohydrates. Most simple and refined carbohydrates add up to a lot of empty calories, and your body absorbs them very quickly. When you eat white rice or regular cookies, your blood sugar rises and then you wind up hungry again.
4. Switch to complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates like brown rice and broccoli are healthier. They’re more filling, they have fiber, and they contain other important nutrients.
5. Know how much you need. Aim to get about 40 to 60 percent of your daily calories from carbohydrates with an emphasis on the complex version. Your doctor or nutritionist can advise you on your individual needs.
Making Smarter Carbohydrate Choices
1. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Make it a habit to get your recommended 5 to 13 servings a day. Most vegetables and fruits provide lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber with very few calories.
2. Eat more beans and legumes. Beans are a great source of carbohydrates as well as lean protein. Sit down to a bowl of chili or grab a breakfast burrito.
3. Substitute whole grains. Bread, rice, and cereal add to the pleasure of dining. Sprinkle whole wheat croutons on your salad. Start the day with a high-fiber cereal, like steel-cut oats.
4. Read labels carefully. Food companies know that consumers like to see language that sounds healthy, so ensure the advertising lives up to the ingredients. Look for whole grains as the first ingredient. Check how many grams of sugar there are in a serving.
5. Check the menu. Most restaurants are likely to serve refined carbohydrates because they cost less and they’re more familiar. Look for places that give you the option of brown rice or whole wheat pizza crust. Otherwise, you can adjust the rest of your meals to compensate.
6. Get enough fiber. Fiber is good for your waistline and your heart. Individual needs vary by age, but a good rule of thumb is to look for at least 1 gram of fiber per 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrate. Excellent sources include raspberries, artichokes, and split peas.
Other Eating Tips
1. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help you to feel full on fewer calories. Carry a steel water bottle around with you.
2. Add in healthy fats and lean protein. Olive oil and tofu are two sound choices for fat and protein. Get about 30% of your calories from each category.
3. Watch portion sizes. Even the best foods require portion control. Measure or learn to estimate how much you’re dishing out. For example, three ounces of fish is about as big as a deck of cards. For a half cup of vegetables, picture a racquet ball.
4. Eat mindfully. Sit down and chew slowly. Pay attention to the flavor and texture of your food. You’ll be more likely to notice when you’re full and avoid overeating.
Carbohydrates are an essential and delicious part of any diet. Go ahead and eat bread as long as you make it whole wheat.