Category Archives: carbohydrates

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health – The Lancet

Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.

Eating carbohydrates in moderation seems to be optimal for health and longevity, suggests new research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

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The observational study of more than 15,400 people from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) in the USA found that diets both low (< 40% energy) and high (>70% energy) in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers of carbohydrates (50-55% of energy) had the lowest risk of mortality.

The primary findings, confirmed in a meta-analysis of studies on carbohydrate intake including more than 432,000 people from over 20 countries, also suggest that not all low-carbohydrate diets appear equal–eating more animal-based proteins and fats from foods like beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese instead of carbohydrate was associated with a greater risk of mortality. Alternatively, eating more plant-based proteins and fats from foods such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts was linked to lower mortality.

“We need to look really carefully at what are the healthy compounds in diets that provide protection”, says Dr Sara Seidelmann, Clinical and Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA who led the research.

“Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy. However, our data suggests that animal-based low carbohydrate diets, which are prevalent in North America and Europe, might be associated with shorter overall life span and should be discouraged. Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.” Continue reading

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5 Carbs You Shouldn’t Stop Eating

This is a good companion post to the infographic I published on good carbs vs. bad carbs previously. Tony

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If you’ve ever been on a diet you’re well aware of the forbidden fruit known as “carbs.” Carbohydrates are the essence your body takes from food to create energy. Your body has two ways of doing this:

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Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs – Infographic

Here is yet another infographic I found that is loaded with good info.

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The list of good carbs includes while grain breads, bran cereals, green vegetables and fresh fruits. The bad carbs: candy and desserts, sugared cereals, sodas and sugary drinks and refined breads.


For more details on Carbs check out 5 Carbs You Shouldn’t Stop Eating

Tony

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Harvard Offers 7 Ways to Snack Smarter

“I love to snack. I bet you do, too. Yet, some 60 percent of us are overweight including 30 percent who are actually obese. Another 10 percent has Type 2 diabetes, a preventable and ruinous disease that stems from inactivity and poor nutrition. I fear that snacking is the reason for a good deal of those statistics.” Such is the opening paragraph from my Page – Snacking – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Check it out for lots more on this important topic.

Now comes the Harvard HEALTHbeat with their list of 7 Ways to Snack Smarter. Their item says, “It’s a great idea to choose snacks wisely. But many foods that seem to be a great nutrition value aren’t. Bran muffins and cereal bars can be packed with unhealthy fats and added sugar. Fat-free foods often contain lots of added salt and sugar.”
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I put it in the blog because it has some excellent suggestions. Regular readers know I am a big fan of nuts, seeds and grains as they are super nutritious.

Here are Harvard’s 7 tips for smarter snacking:

1. Go for the grain. Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips and high-fiber, whole-grain cereals — can give you some energy with staying power.

2. Bring back breakfast. Many breakfast foods can be repurposed as a nutritious snack later in the day. How about a slice of whole-grain toast topped with low-sugar jam? Low-sugar granola also makes a quick snack. I think this has great possibilities.

3. Try a “hi-low” combination. Combine a small amount of something with healthy fat, like peanut butter, with a larger amount of something very light, like apple slices or celery sticks.

4. Go nuts. Unsalted nuts and seeds make great snacks. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, filberts, and other nuts and seeds contain many beneficial nutrients and are more likely to leave you feeling full (unlike chips or pretzels). Nuts have lots of calories, though, so keep portion sizes small. Because nuts and seeds leave you full, they actually can result in your eating less.

5. The combo snack. Try to eat more than one macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied. I think that  ‘satisfied feeling’ goes a long way toward weight control.

6. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and eat your snack like you would a small meal.

7. You can take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthful snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

Harvard offered these tips in a marketing flyer on their 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating.

Tony

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Filed under calories, carbohydrates, snack foods, Snacking, Weight

Is Exercise Optional for Losing Weight?

To answer the question in several words – Not when you consider the big picture. Please don’t stop reading yet. There are some important misconceptions I want to talk about regarding exercise.

I have posted several items recently on food myths that I think can hamper your efforts to lose weight. The first was Should we cut carbohydrates to lose weight? and the second Does eating late make you gain weight? If you find yourself even partially believing either one, please click on its link and get the facts.

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Regarding regular exercise, a friend of mine said she ran across a fitness article saying that it is not necessary to exercise to lose weight. She said it was a myth that you needed to exercise to lose weight.

Wow. What a stunning example of ‘a little knowledge is dangerous!’ Factually, the statement is correct. As a calorie counter, I can attest to the fact you simply need to cut 3500 calories from your intake to lose a pound. So eating 500 calories less each day will cut about a pound a week from your weight. You can do that without exercising. Continue reading

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Should We Cut Carbohydrates to Lose Weight?

“Carbs are fattening – cut down on them” is another of the popular food myths. Many people think that by reducing their carbohydrate consumption they will lose weight.

Not true, according to Erin McCarthy, MS. RD, LDN, professional dietician at the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

McCarthy said that no matter what food group you choose, if you cut out the items from that group, you will reduce your caloric intake and lose weight.
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So, cutting down on carbs is not necessarily the way to go if you want to lose weight.

Back when I first started writing this blog, I took a course called Nutrition Made Clear from the Great Courses.

It was taught by Professor Roberta Anding, registered dietician and a certified specialist in sports dietetics.

Professor Anding said that carbohydrate is a maligned nutrient. She considers it a nutritional powerhouse.

“It is the exclusive fuel of the central nervous system, your brain and for exercising muscle.”

It is necessary for both brain and muscle function. She considers carbohydrates central to our human physiology.

“For most of us, Carbohydrates should account for about 50 percent of our diets,” Anding said.

The functions of carbohydrates to provide energy. “folks on a low carbohydrate diet are irritable, fatigued and lethargic….” and the reason is that they have eliminated a major source of energy.

One further function of carbohydrates is that they protect proteins which are used for building our muscles and tissues. If we are low on carbohydrates, the body will burn protein for energy. Ironically, it is protein and not fat that is taken by the body when carbs are low. The liver is able to convert protein into carbohydrates, but not fat.

So, as always, the answer is balance. Cut out extra calories, but don’t distort the basic nutrients. Try to eat a balanced diet. I have written repeatedly about the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. You can read further by typing Mediterranean Diet into the search box at the right.

Tony

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Filed under body fat, carbohydrates, health, healthy eating, healthy living, nutrition, Weight