A new diet plan shows you how you can enjoy eating carbs while getting slim and fit – for life.
Carbohydrates have had a bad rap over the past couple of decades, with women around the world shunning the bread basket and even avoiding fruit and vegies in the belief that these foods will make them fat, bloated and sluggish. But a new diet plan from the US reveals that carbs don’t have to be the enemy.
Author Frances Largeman-Roth is the senior food and nutrition editor at Health magazine, and co-wrote The Carb Lover’s Diet (Hamlyn, $24.99) with her editor-in-chief, Ellen Kunes. Like many women, Largeman-Roth is no stranger to dieting.
“I’ve been on some type of diet since I was 15 years old,” she explains. Largeman-Roth estimates that she has spent around 36 years counting calories and generally obsessing about her weight.
Are you carbo-phobic?
A self-confessed carb-lover, Longman-Roth says she was tired of feeling guilty about every slice of bread or mouthful of pasta she ate.
“We’ve learned to fear carbs because we’ve been told that they make us gain weight,” Longman-Roth says. She believes this fear is unfounded, and says eating the right kind of carbs – in the form of wholegrains, fruit and vegetables – can actually help us lose weight, and keep it off.
Her belief is backed up by scientific research, with a study from the University of Colorado revealing that far from being the enemy, eating the right kind of carbohydrates is the best way to get and stay slim.
The five golden rules
The beauty of the carb-lovers diet is that it embraces a wide range of foods designed to make you feel your best. Here are the five rules to follow:
1. Eat a “carbstar” at every meal
Carbstars are carbohydrates which are high in resistant starch. Resistant starch is so named because it resists digestion. Resistant starch is a weight-loss powerhouse because it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream or get broken down into glucose. This means that it does not raise blood sugar. Foods high in resistant starch include bananas, oats, beans and lentils, potatoes, wholewheat pasta, barley, brown rice, peas, rye and pumpernickel bread and polenta. Each of these contains at least 1g of resistant starch per serving. (see below for more ‘good carbs’)
2. Balance your plate
Carbstars should take up roughly one quarter of your plate. The rest of your plate should be filled with lean meats, low-fat dairy products, good fats and fruit and vegies.
3. Be portion savvy
“You can eat the carbs you crave at every meal,” says Largeman-Roth, “that said, you do need to follow our portion advice.” As a rough guide, this equates to one banana, 125g cannellini beans or one small baked potato.
4. Never deprive yourself
Chocolate, pasta, wine, bread and even chips make an appearance on the carb-lovers menu. The reason being, says Largeman-Roth, that when we’re forbidden to eat our favourite foods, we often end up bingeing on them. “I don’t know about you, but if I’m told I can’t eat pizza, I crave it, then break down and eat about five slices,” she says. On the carb-lover’s diet, you can indulge daily – in moderation.
5. Build a power pantry
As with any diet, the key to success is having healthy foods on hand at all times. These include: barley, brown rice, canned beans, polenta, quinoa and wholemeal bread and pasta in the cupboard; berries, broccoli, carrots, low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, olives and salmon in the fridge; and apples, avocados, bananas, pears and tomatoes in your fruit bowl.
Phase 1: Kick-start your diet
The carb-lovers eating plan consists of a seven-day kick-start diet that includes 1200 calories per day. You can adhere to the diet or mix and match the meals. A typical day’s menu can include a banana smoothie for breakfast, chicken and salad pitta sandwich for lunch and chicken pasta primavera for dinner, with Greek yoghurt or hummus with vegies as snacks.
To maximise your likelihood of success on this phase of the diet, Largeman-Roth advises that you avoid distractions such as the TV at mealtimes and eat slowly and mindfully, as well as staying hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. At the end of the seven days, you should be at least 2.5kg lighter, she claims.
Phase 2: The 21-day Carblovers Immersion Plan
This part of the plan allows larger portions, a wider variety of foods and a few treats. By continuing to follow the plan, Largeman-Roth says most dieters lose another 3kg. There are 75 simple, delicious recipes to support the diet, including blueberry oat pancakes, pesto turkey club sandwiches, bistro-style steak with new potatoes and warm pear with cinnamon ricotta.
The final word
Once you’ve completed the four-week diet, there’s a maintenance program which includes a chapter on exercising, strategies to help you stick to the plan for life, and a guide to making healthy choices when eating out.
As Largeman-Roth explains, “This is about losing weight and keeping it off forever. You’ll only be able to do that if all the foods you love are on the menu.”
•Beans and lentils
•Sweetened soft drinks