Despite popular belief, you don't have to give up carbohydrates completely in order to lose weight. But, you do need to understand how to balance your high carb diet. Carbohydrates are essential in providing your body with the energy it needs, not only for physical activity, but also to be able to perform daily functions like breathing and pumping blood to the heart. Your body needs carbohydrates, but the key is to choose the right type of carbs. Replace refined, processed carbs with heart healthy whole grain alternatives.
Focus on Eating Healthy Carbs
Bad carbohydrates, those that are high in refined sugar and starches, are absorbed quickly in the blood stream, and cause a spike in insulin levels which lowers blood sugar and actually ends up increasing your hunger. These foods rank high on the glycemic index. This index measures how fast a food effects your blood sugar. The higher the glycemic index of a food, the faster it effects your blood sugar. You'll actually end up feeling even hungrier after eating high indexing foods like white bread and potatoes. Eating a large amount of these refined sugars and starches also leads to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
It's important to eat only those carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index as they keep blood sugar levels stable and therefore help to sustain fat loss. These are the carbs that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) calls "skinny carbs" and include non-starchy vegetables, fruits, skim milk, oats, brown rice, yams, beans and whole grain wheat products, like whole wheat pasta. The USDA recommends that 40 to 60 percent of your calories come from these "skinny carbs".
Protein and Good Fats
In addition to replacing refined carbs with good "skinny" carbs, your diet should also consist of healthy sources of both protein and good fats. Proteins help to increase the thermic effect of food (the number of calories your body burns digesting meals) and to create lean body mass. Creating lean body mass is important when dieting because muscle burns more calories than fat, not only while exercising, but while resting as well. Consume at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight, splitting your proteins evenly between meals. Try eating smaller, more frequent meals, every three hours to help maintain blood sugar levels.
Good fats are also an important part of a healthy diet to ensure a healthy hormonal balance. You should get at least 25% of your daily calories from healthy fats such as animal fats (high-protein meats), oils (fish, olives) and through foods like avocados and coconuts.
When it comes to healthy eating, balance and moderation are best. Avoid dramatic, extreme diets, which can cause trauma to the body, including heart disease and diabetes.
The key to healthy living and successful weight loss is to find the diet program that works best for you. There is not one magic diet or eating regimen that will work for everyone, but the univeral way to lose weight and stay healthy is to excercise and eat the right foods.