Here’s How You Can Get There

photo by ADA

Original Content: Washington Post

I believe that low-carbohydrate diets should be approached cautiously. But if you’re determined to follow a low-carb diet, or if you’re trying to transition from a low-carb diet to a healthier one, here are several tips that will make your experience healthier and the results longer lasting:

• Eat at least 130 grams of carbohydrates daily. In a recent report, the National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board said you need a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrate for brain function. (Low-carb diets vary but rarely recommend you eat more than 100 grams per day.) To maximize the nutrition and minimize the glucose and insulin response, focus on whole, natural foods and deemphasize processed and refined carbohydrates such as those made with white flour or sugar.

• Eat at least 25 grams of fiber daily. One of the keys to weight loss is to feel full with fewer calories. High-fiber foods help make this happen. Studies show that eating 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men is important for optimum health. Fiber comes in many different forms in food. It is concentrated in the skin of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, corn, and legumes. It is in the seeds of vegetables and fruits such as berries and cucumbers. It is found in the germ and bran or coating that surrounds wheat kernels and other grains. These essential parts of the grain are removed to create white flour and other refined grains.

• Minimize saturated fats. If there’s one thing science has shown fairly conclusively, it’s that saturated fat — found in animal fat — is bad news.

A diet high in saturated fat increases the risk for coronary artery disease by causing LDL (bad cholesterol) levels to rise. New evidence suggests this may also increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, and even increase belly fat, which is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. A diet high in red meat and animal fat has been correlated with several cancers.

To minimize saturated fat, choose seafood, poultry without skin, lean red meats and reduced fat or fat- free dairy products. Concentrate on established healthy fats found in fish, nuts, canola and olive oils.

• Get your essential nutrients. With an intake of approximately 160 grams of carbohydrates a day, you can still obtain the vital nutrients essential to health. Here is a basic breakdown:

• three servings of dairy or

calcium-fortified soy: 36 grams carbs

• three servings fruits: 45 grams carbs

• four servings vegetables: 20 grams carbs

• four servings grains, preferably whole: 60 grams carbs

• Don’t rely on supplements to replace foods. To their credit, most advocates of low-carb diets recommend supplements because they realize the diet is deficient in dozens, if not hundreds, of important nutrients. But supplements can never take the place of real food. A whole, natural food is the perfect package for the vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals your body needs not just to survive but to thrive. Studies on supplements have failed to show the same health-enhancing and cancer-preventing effects as a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

• Avoid processed low-carb foods. One of the positive things about the low-carb movement is that it persuaded people to reduce their intake of processed, refined foods (a k a junk foods) and instead turn to whole foods. But now the food industry has responded to the low-carb craze with low-carb foods with low nutritional value. These foods undermine the nutritional benefits gained by cutting out processed food. Besides, have you noticed that most of the low-carb foods contain the same number of calories — and often more saturated fat — as their high-carb counterparts?

• Increase physical activity. No matter what you eat, if you’re physically active, your body clears glucose and fat more quickly and efficiently from the blood stream so there is no need to worry about high insulin levels.

• Live a little! If you restrict yourself too much, your diet is doomed to fail. Research shows that those who successfully maintain weight loss reduce the fatty or sweet foods in their diet but still treat themselves occasionally. I’ve found a once-a-week splurge is good for the soul.

Katherine Tallmadge

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