Monday, May 25, 2009

Tweak of the Week: The Carbs to Keep

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - 23 Comments
By Shawn McKee
Staff Writer,

Face it: Carbohydrates are confusing. There are simple carbs, complex carbs, good carbs, bad carbs, refined, unrefined, plus, something called net carbs -- whatever that means.

With the popularity of low-carb diets like the Glycemic Impact plan, people are hearing half-baked facts about carbs and only getting more confused. Luckily, eDiets Director of Nutrition Services Pam Ofstein slices through the uncertainty about carbohydrates to give you the freshest information available.

"What most of us are referring to as 'good carbs' are those including vegetables and whole fruits, whole grains and beans (unrefined carbohydrates). These foods include a substantial amount of fiber and can help to level blood sugar levels," Pam explains. "There are many carbohydrate foods (refined) that aren't as nutritious as we would like them to be and contain less fiber or the important vitamins and minerals we should be including daily."

For example, if you start your day with a high-fiber bran cereal, as opposed to a sugary cereal with little-to-no-fiber, it will provide you with many health benefits, as well as the providing satiety to keep you feeling full longer.

The most obvious benefit of fiber has been promoted through any number of commercials on restroom regularity, but there are so many other benefits to this crucial weight-loss component.

"The health benefits of fiber include lowering cholesterol, helping maintain insulin levels and decreasing certain risks of cancer (i.e. colon/breast)," explains Pam. "Fiber also slows down stomach emptying to allow for better digestion and helps keep you full longer -- providing satiety."

So beyond its many health benefits, fiber can keep your cravings under control and prevent overeating, which will aid in your weight-loss goals. But how much fiber do you need daily?

"Most of us don't get enough," warns Pam. "The average person takes in only about 15 grams of fiber per day. Try to up that amount to a minimum of 25 grams per day -- aim for 30 grams or more."

The breakdown on carbohydrates: You need more carbs from unrefined foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less from processed foods. Whole foods have the "good carbs" loaded with health benefits and fiber, which can be your secret weight-loss weapon in the war on fat. Skipping the white bread and going for the whole grain is a good place to start.

Check out Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels as she gives her own no-nonsense explanation of carbohydrates.
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