Over 26 million Americans are on a hardcore, low carbohydrate diet and 70 million more are limiting their carbohydrate intake. In fact, expected sales for low carbohydrate products this year are approximately $30 billion—that is more revenue than Coca-Cola generates from soft-drink sales worldwide! Although numbers for Canada are not available as of yet, it appears Canadians are following the same trend.
As the popularity grows, the carbohydrate craze is becoming confusing for consumers. As it stands, Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration have not come up with specific definitions of what constitutes a “low” or “light” carbohydrate diet. To make matters even more confusing, there is also argument among healthcare practitioners on the definition of the term “net carbohydrates”. Typically when food manufacturers use the term net carbohydrates it means the good carbohydrates, such as fiber, have been subtracted from the bad and the remaining number is advertised. The argument is that certain elements of a carbohydrate, such as fiber or sugar alcohol, do not affect blood sugar levels and, therefore, do not trigger weight gain. Several dieticians and nutritionists feel that all carbohydrates, good and bad, should be included in the total count.
To lose weight effectively and eat a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, it is important to get to the bottom of the carbohydrate controversy. Visit the Metabolic Booster Phase (Phase I) or the Continuum Weight Loss Phase (Phase II) to receive thousands of personalized meal plans to help you lose weight fast! Once you complete a personal profile, you will receive meal plans based on your height, weight, lifestyle, dietary likes and dislikes and activity level.
What makes a bad carb bad?
All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is the primary source of fuel that runs the body. The carbohydrates that have played a significant role in the obesity epidemic we are currently witnessing are those that have been refined and processed, such as white flour and sugar products. Specifically, white bread, pasta, soda, candy, cookies, muffins and juice are among the top culprits. Unfortunately, manufacturers sneak sugar into many processed foods to improve the taste; even items such as ketchup and salad dressings now have sugar in them. Look at the ingredient label. Ingredients are listed in order from most to least. If the first few ingredients listed on a package are glucose, sugar or high fructose corn syrup, you will know the product is filled with sugar.
The problem with refined flour and refined sugar is that it elevates blood sugar very rapidly. In response to this rapid rise, the pancreas is forced to release insulin to deal with the blood sugar. Insulin facilitates the uptake of blood sugar into the cells. When refined products are eaten too often, the pancreas tends to over secrete insulin to deal with the sugar. Too much insulin will cause blood sugar levels to plummet, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish, and the excess insulin will be stored as fat. The end result? Weight gain.
What makes a good carb good?
Carbohydrates that have a good rating are those that do not tend to spike blood sugar levels. In other words, these carbohydrates have a low glycemic index rating. These include vegetables, most fruits, beans and whole grains.
In terms of bread, it was once thought that refined, “fluffy” white bread was more desirable and was actually indicative of wealth and affluence. Stone-ground, multigrain bread, or peasant bread as it was called, was thought to be the undesirable bread of the poor. Boy, were we wrong! The more whole the grain, the better it is for our waistlines and our health. When buying bread, switch to those that are enriched with protein and made from whole grain. These healthier breads will be denser and heavier.
Friendly tips to cut carbs
1. Instead of bagels or bread, switch to whole wheat wraps, which provide fewer carbs.
2. If eating a burger, remove half or the entire bun.
3. Instead of cereal, have a shake for breakfast. Make sure to include the proper fat, carbohydrates and protein into your morning shake for long-sustained fuel. Refer to the Truestar meal plans for tasty options.
4. Suffering from food cravings? Grab watered-down juice, fruit or chewable vitamin C supplements instead of a muffin, cookie or chocolate bar.
5. Remove all refined flour from your cupboards and replace it with whole grain products such as kamut, spelt, multigrain and flax.
6. Start experimenting with beans and legumes. From bean salads to chilies, beans are a wonderful source of low glycemic index carbohydrates and they fill you up fast!
7. If you love to bake, switch to whole grain flour. In addition, bake with whey or soy protein powder to decrease the glycemic index of the baked goods.