If the idea of being able to eat plates full of food, and still maintain or even lose weight appeals to you—then you will love the information in this article! So many have tried diet after diet, gone from low fat to low carb, but no matter what dietary plan you adhere to, there is one group of foods that will always improve it…
The Greatest Food Group in Diet Books
The fruits and vegetables group (especially vegetables) is the greatest topic for diet book authors to write on because it has no “avoid” lists. It only has what author and MD Rex Russell calls “all you can eat and more than you ever thought of eating” lists! You may find a diet book telling you to cut down on the saturated fats, or the sugar and grains, or just carbs in general, but not vegetables.
Two Types of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates, for all practical purposes can really only be divided into two groups—fiber carbs and non-fiber carbs. Typically, dieticians and nutritionists try to steer people away from what they call refined carbohydrates. That is, carbs that have had their fiber removed or greatly reduced in the manufacturing process. Without the fiber, such foods are usually absorbed quicker, and have more calories by weight than the same volume of food with the fiber. Since fiber contributes no caloric value, and can even slow the absorption of other carbs (sugars) it can actually be subtracted from the carb grams listed on the label of any food you eat. So if you are eating a serving of broccoli for example, with 5 grams of carbohydrate in it, since 3 of those grams are fiber, there is actually only 2 grams of useable sugar per serving of broccoli. This makes it an excellent food to eat when seeking to get or stay lean. By contrast, a couple slices of white bread has only about 2 grams of fiber with as much as 24 grams of useable sugar (starch). That is the equivalent of a Hershey bar in carb calories. Does a healthy meal start with a Hershey bar? Six ounces of pasta is the same as 5 Hershey bars! This is not the way to stay lean. To get the calorie equivalent of those six ounces of pasta you would have to eat: 7 ears of corn, 15 cups of carrots, 10 heads of lettuce, 9 lbs. of broccoli, 12 cups of green beans, 24 green peppers, 20 stalks of celery, 8 ½ onions, or 11 lbs. of spinach.
Please take a minute and compare the ease of eating six ounces of pasta as opposed to 11 lbs. of spinach. Any person with common sense will understand the importance of substituting more vegetables and fiber carbs for the typical sugars and starches when watching your weight. As you can see, vegetables can be eaten in virtually unlimited quantity, but be moderate with the grains.
Pump Up the Volume
Satiety expert Barbara Rolls and her colleagues at Pennsylvania State University have discovered another key principle that argues well for more vegetables and whole foods for weight loss. And that is simply this: People eat about the same amount—or weight—of food each day to feel satisfied. So what they have been able to do is, drop the caloric value of a day’s worth of food by more than 400 calories, without changing people’s portion sizes or sense of satiety. How? Simply by following the trick above and making sure all her subject’s meals were full of vegetables, some fruits, and a minimum of whole grains. She was able to bulk up the servings while reducing the overall caloric value.
The bottom line is: To lose weight you must cut calories and the easiest way to do this without losing any nutritional benefit is to get the majority of carbohydrates in your diet from vegetables and some fruits. If you are going to have more sweets, or grains, you are going to have to be A LOT more careful to balance your intake of calories with your metabolism and activity levels.
Written by: Tom Morrison, Fitness Coordinator, Bradley Wellness Center