This is the 3rd installment in our series on Permanent Weight Loss. The 2nd installment in this series is “Eat in Harmony for Permanent Weight Loss“.
In the previous post about eating in harmony with your body’s actual needs, we discussed the importance of being tuned to your true physiological requirements instead of the mere cravings, especially the emotional ones. Now, admittedly, this is no trivial task, and it can take some time to retrain your disciplines. The second item in our list of five topics on lasting weight loss is also, admittedly, not always as easy as it sounds, but just as important… possibly, more so.
2. Reduce Refined (Simple) Carbs – Increase Complex Carbs
Refined carbs most commonly consist of white flour and simple sugars. Additional simple carbs will include items such as white rice, french-fries, potato chips, sugar-filled cereals, and soft drinks. Most packaged and conventionally prepared foods found in the grocery store contain refined carbs.
When thinking of refined carbs, white flour consumption is a huge problem, as it is used extensively in foods. Many whole-wheat bakery items actually contain large quantities of white flour. White flour-based foods and simple carbs are typically found in breads, bagels, pasta, crackers, chips, tortillas, muffins, cakes, cookies, and pizza dough.
Often white flour is just given a fancy name, like enriched flour or fortified flour. However, it is still a refined carbohydrate, which will affect insulin response, raise the set-point and encourage weight gain. Remember to read labels, so you can avoid being fooled.
Simply regarding sweets:
Did you know that consuming sugar causes us to snack? Snacking patterns usually are the result of rapidly falling blood sugar levels related to the release of insulin in the body. When we eat excessive sugars (refined carbs), we stimulate the release of insulin. That pattern, in turn, decreases blood sugar levels and creates a strong urge to eat more calories.
Many people believe it is best to avoid simple sugars (white/brown conventional sugars, high-fructose corn syrups) by consuming products that contain artificial sweeteners. They have been fooled to believe that artificial sweeteners will help them lose weight.
Artificial sweeteners do not have calories, but are on the “strictly avoid” list for several reasons. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners dramatically increase the appetite and desire for sweets.
Even more importantly, artificial sweeteners raise the set-point, are toxic, and encourage diabetes.
Easily misunderstood, complex carbs are often lumped together with simple carbohydrates. Many people seem to think all carbohydrates cause weight gain. Not true, when balanced portions are consumed.
Complex carbohydrates are:
- Fresh vegetables, fresh fruits
- Legumes – beans, peas, lentils
- Whole grains (most digestible if sprouted) – check labels for 100% whole grain, or seven to ten grain (not just enriched or fortified) bread, muffins or crackers. Limit daily intake of grains if you are serious about weight-loss.
As an important part of our diet, complex carbs are the only foods that contain fiber, a vital part of a healthy diet and required for proper digestive function.
The average American eats approximately 5 grams of fiber per day, but truly needs 35-45 grams per day, for optimal health. Dietary fiber is the part of the plant that is resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes. As a result only a small amount of fiber is digested or metabolized in the stomach or intestines. Instead, most of it moves through the gastrointestinal tract and is eliminated from the body.
Even though most fiber is not digested, it delivers an array of health benefits. First, fiber absorbs water, which helps prevent constipation. A high fiber diet also reduces the risk of colon cancer, because it speeds up the transit time of food through the intestines, which keeps the digestive track clean.
Fiber also binds to certain substances that would normally result in the production of cholesterol and eliminates these substances from the body. Because of this, fiber helps lower cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Fiber actually attaches to fat and transports it out of the body, rather than allowing it to be stored. Consuming a great deal of fiber will help lower body fat and the set-point.
Life is not pleasant without some sweetness. However, you now know it’s important to avoid the simple sugars and artificial sweeteners. So, what do you do?
Instead of artificial sweeteners, conventional sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup choose natural, complex sweeteners that can be used without harming your health. Maple syrup, raw honey, organic applesauce, or raw agave syrup are sensible alternatives (always moderate amounts for weight-control).
These complex sweeteners absorb slower, thus having less effect on insulin levels. For those with insulin imbalances, stay with the lower glycemic sweeteners, such as coconut sugar, xylitol (all-natural sweetener) or applesauce.
In general, most desserts are extremely high in calories, fats and sugars. Try substituting fresh fruit; low fat, high fiber (whole grain) snacks; or nonfat yogurt (not pre-sweetened) – check various brands for differing sugar content.
(Regarding yogurt – whenever, fruit or sweetener of any kind is added to yogurt for more than a few minutes, the “good” bacteria – healthy for the body’s digestive tract – is destroyed. If the taste of plain yogurt is unpalatable, try adding fruit to plain yogurt just prior to consuming.)
As you continue to thoughtfully choose what you eat, remember to keep approximately 60% of your daily diet focused on complex carbs – about six servings of fresh vegetables, and two servings of fresh fruit per day, can lower your set-point and help you reach your weight-loss goals.
The next installment to this series is “Liquids can Ruin the Best Weight Loss Diet“.