Many people who are striving to lose weight and get fit have been convinced to fear carbohydrates. Proponents of the ketogenic diet, Atkins diet and the zero diet continue to insist that carbohydrates are bad for your health. The truth is that your body absolutely needs protein, healthy fats and, yes, carbohydrates to function at peak efficiency. Good carbs are essential for good health. Some carbohydrates, however, are not good for you, but they are packaged and labeled to indicate otherwise. Instead of fearing carbohydrates, you should have been fearing the deceptive practices of manufacturers when it comes to the labeling of the grain contents in their products. By learning how to read labels and which buzz words to avoid, you no longer have to fear either, and you can take control in making the right selections to incorporate necessary and healthy carbohydrates into your meals.
Know the Whole Word
The healthiest carbohydrates are those that have not been processed. Some examples of such whole food carbohydrates include the following:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
These unprocessed carbohydrates, also known as complex carbohydrates, have not been refined and broken down, and they are high in fiber. This means that your body takes longer to digest and metabolize them, and your body reaps the benefits of nutrients that get stripped away from the refined grains of processed carbohydrate products. If you want to make the healthiest choices when it comes to purchasing carbohydrate products, such as bread, commit the word 'whole' to your memory. It is the most crucial word that you should seek out when comparing product ingredient lists.
Avoid Wheat Flour If It Is Not Whole
Did you know that white bread is made from wheat flour, or that the canister of white baking flour in your pantry is wheat flour? White flour is processed wheat flour that has been bleached to give it the white appearance. Nutrients and fiber have been extricated from the wheat flour, transforming it into a starchy ingredient that turns into instant sugar in your body, resulting in blood glucose spikes and increased fat on your waistline. Steer clear from any product that lists any of these ingredients:
- Wheat flour
- Unbleached wheat flour
- Enriched wheat flour, which is white flour into which a meager amount of B vitamins have been added
Whole wheat flour is the unprocessed and nutritious flour that you should be looking for in carbohydrate products.
Beware of Deceptive Phrases
As food manufacturers strive to cater to society's healthier lifestyle trends, they design packages to display certain catch phrases or buzzwords that they hope will lure consumers. When you take a quick glance at the box as you shop in haste, you perceive a phrase that indicates a healthy product. Be wary of packages that boast words such as 'made with' and 'contains' before the touted healthy ingredient. When a package of sliced bread displays 'Made with whole wheat' on the front, take that statement literally. It simply means that it is made with some whole wheat and, most likely, processed grains as well. A common buzzword that tricks shoppers is 'multigrain.' This means that the product is made from multiple varieties of grains. It is not necessarily an indication that the grains used are whole grains or processed grains. The same concept applies to labels that read 'seven grain' or '12 grain.' Precisely which grains are included and whether or not any of them are refined is ambiguous. Similarly, terms like 'stone ground' or 'cracked wheat' tell you how the wheat was processed when producing the flour. How can you uncover the whole story? Flip the package over to reveal the actual ingredient list.
The First Ingredient
Whenever you purchase bread, pasta, a rice product, tortillas, crackers or cereal, take a look at the ingredient label on the product's packaging. If the first word on the ingredient list is 'whole,' then it is a product that is worth considering as an addition to the contents of your shopping cart. Whole wheat flour means that the wheat used in making the flour has remained unprocessed. If the first word on the ingredient list is not 'whole,' then move on to the next carbohydrate contestant. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of the quantity contained in the product, which means that the first ingredient is the largest portion used in making the product. If you do not see whole wheat flour or whole grain wheat flour listed until you have first read two or three other ingredients, such as enriched wheat flour, then the product is not a healthy choice.
Enjoy the Healthy Carbs
Once you have found products that meet the whole grain criteria, select the ones that contain the highest amount of fiber and the lowest amount of sugar per serving and restrict each of your meals to one serving only of these products. Carbohydrates provide your body with the energy that your will appreciate when it's time to embark on your daily workout routine. Complex carbohydrates can also help those who are striving to lose weight feel satiated. If you are still hungry after consuming a balanced meal that included one serving of brown rice, have some more vegetables. Remember to choose vegetables that do not have a high starch content, which means that carrots, corn and root vegetables should be enjoyed in limited quantities.
By remembering these basic guidelines for discerning healthy carbohydrates from unhealthy carbohydrates, you will be empowered to make nutritious choices as you enjoy carbohydrates without guilt as part of your balanced meal plan for healthy living. For more information on losing weight, talk with the professionals at weight loss clinics.