The holiday season is tough if you’re trying to lose weight. Most people will gain a few pounds with just a nibble here and bite or two over there.
And losing weight isn’t easy, even in when the holidays are far behind us.
But a recent study in the Lancet came up with one simple fact for weight loss that’s easy to understand; and it doesn’t require you to count calories or exercise more.
Here’s the secret the researchers discovered: Replace processed carbs with high-quality carbs. Examples of high-quality carbs include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, quinoa and whole grains like brown rice, barley, farro and steel-cut oats.
The study showed that by making that one substitution you could lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes and cancer, and your risk of dying from heart disease or stroke. If that weren’t enough, it would also help with dropping those extra pounds you gained around the holidays.
It’s not difficult; but it can be very different. For most Americans, those really-good-for-you high quality carbs account for only 9 percent of the calories people eat. In contrast, the low-quality carbs like white bread, pasta, bagels, sugary breakfast cereals, flavored yogurts, chips, crackers, juices and soft drinks, which all have a lot of added sugars. I probably got you hungry just reading that last paragraph.
That’s why low-quality carbs are 42 percent of calories that Americans consume.
The reasons that high-quality carbs are high-quality is that they have healthier types of sugar and way more fiber. Those two things help you feel full so you don’t want to eat as much. They also support the “good” bacteria in your intestines, better control your blood sugar and cholesterol, and helps lower inflammation and helps fight off the chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The Lancet study analyzed 58 prior clinical trials that included over 4,600 people. They found that adults who ate the most whole grains, vegetables and other fiber-rich carbs had a 15 to 31 percent less diabetes, colorectal cancer and risk of dying from a stroke or heart disease compared to people who ate the lowest amounts of these foods.
The high-quality carb eaters also lost more weight although they were never told to eat less or exercise more. That’s a lot of benefit for changing one habit. True, it will take some work. Most Americans eat 5 servings per day of low-quality carbs and only one serving per day of high-quality carbs…even if you count catsup as a tomato.
Part of the reason is that low-quality carbs are everywhere. How many fast food places are there compared to fruit stands?
Those processed, low-quality fast foods have had their fiber, vitamins and minerals largely removed. That in turn causes the body to absorb them quicker, and that causes blood sugar to rise quickly and insulin to spike. That makes our brain happy…for the moment. But it makes our entire body unhappy in the long run and can lead to cravings and overeating, both of which are unhealthy.
Good health and weight loss begins in the grocery store with high-quality choices. And you don’t have to exercise more or count your calories. Even if you change your habits by 25 percent or 50 percent, you’re improving your health and your weight by the same amount.
Try eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, peas, quinoa, beans and lentils; include some nuts, seeds, avocado, eggs, chicken and seafood; try to minimize white bread, white pasta, sweetened drinks, sodas and foods with added sugar.
Sounds like a good New Year’s resolution.