How many carbs should I eat a day to lose weight?

Reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet is one of the best ways to lose weight. By reducing the carbohydrates in your diet, especially simple carbs, you will lower your insulin levels. Insulin is the storage (get fat) hormone. Lowering insulin levels keeps your body from storing excess sugar as fat. Furthermore, lowering your insulin levels allows fat to be released from your fat cells to be used as energy. Reduced-carb lifestyles also have benefits that go beyond just weight loss. They naturally lower blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides. They raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and improve the pattern of LDL (the bad cholesterol) from type B to type A.

There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a low or reduced carb lifestyle. Furthermore, what is low for one person may not be low for another. An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on multiple variables such as age, gender, body composition, activity levels, and current metabolic health. People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people become insulin resistant, obese, or type II diabetic, the rules change. People who fall into this category can’t tolerate the same amount of carbs as those who are healthy. They become “carbohydrate intolerant”. If you are overweight with belly fat, chances are you are carbohydrate intolerant.

For most people, I would recommend starting in the range of 50-100 grams of carbohydrates a day. This range is great if you want to lose weight effortlessly while allowing for a bit of carbs in the diet. It is also a great maintenance range for people who are carb sensitive. This level corresponds to eating lots of vegetables, 2-3 pieces of fruit per day, and minimal if any starchy carbohydrates.

For some though, the 50-100 gram range may not be enough to see benefit. Those who are significantly carbohydrate intolerant, pre-diabetic, insulin resistant, diabetic, or significantly obese may need a lower range to see benefit. If the 50-100 gram range is not working, try the 25-50 gram range. At this level, you can eat plenty of low-carb vegetables, some berries, and minimal carbs from other foods. This range can be difficult for some people to maintain.

Remember, everyone is different. You will need to experiment to see what level works best for you. You may need to start out at a fairly low level, but subsequently you may be able to increase your daily intake as you lose weight and become more carbohydrate sensitive. If you want to try out a reduced carb lifestyle, I recommend initially tracking your food intake for a few weeks to get a feel for the amount of carbs you are eating.

Very important: if you are a diabetic or on diabetes medication, you will need to discuss your diet changes with your primary care physician or endocrinologist first. This is critical. You will need to monitor your blood sugars closely, and most likely reduce your diabetes medication. Your blood sugars will drop fairly quickly and you do not want to become hypoglycemic. Do not try without your personal physician’s guidance.

If you are trying to become healthier and lose weight, give this dietary lifestyle a try. Most people’s metabolisms are just not able to handle the amount of carbohydrates they are ingesting on a daily basis. Lowering your daily carbohydrate intake will make you healthier, naturally, subsequently reducing the need for medications.

Should I Cut All Fat Out of My Diet to Lose Weight and Improve My Health?

In one word – No! Fat is an important part of your diet.  There are 3 macro-nutrients in our diet: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The majority of out diet should be carbohydrates (mostly complex, high fiber carbs).  Protein is also an important part of our diet, although most people probably eat much more than they really need. Fat is also an important part of your diet. Just like carbs though, there are good and bad fats. In fact, it is not how much fat you eat that is important, rather it is the types of fat you eat that is critical. As described in earlier posts, the two evil fats are saturated and trans-fats. Saturated fat is converted to the bad cholesterol (LDL) by the liver, which can lead to cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral arterial disease). Saturated fat is found in meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and ice cream. Even worse for you are trans fats. Trans fats raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL) – a double whammy! You should avoid trans fats completely. There is no healthy amount you can consume! Look for hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated oils in ingredient lists for the presence of trans fats (See prior article in archive for more details). Polyunsaturated fats are the healthy fats – especially omega 3 fats. The two main types of polyunsaturated fats are omega 3 & 6. Omega 3 fats are found in fish (such as salmon), flaxseed, walnuts, brazil nuts, and sea vegetables. Most people get enough omega 6 fats, but not enough omega 3. Monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil and canola oil) can also be a healthy part of your diet. The key though, is to use olive oil and canola oil sparingly. Remember all oils are 100% fat. All fats have 9 calories per gram. Therefore, you need to be careful and not over eat fats (especially if you are trying to lose weight). The calories can build up quickly. Nuts and seeds can also be a healthy part of your diet. Remember though, a serving size is a handful. Again the calories can add up quickly. Add a small amount of seeds or nuts to your salads to help your body absorb important fat soluble vitamins from your vegetables. For those who do not like eating fish, fish oil pills or krill oil pills can be used instead. Flaxseed and walnuts are good sources of omega 3 for those who are vegetarian. In conclusion, make sure you avoid saturated and trans-fats in your diet. They lead to disease. Eat a balance and variety of polunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for good health. Just watch your calories!

Causes vs. Symptoms of Disease – It is Important to Understand the Difference

It is very important to understand the difference between causes and symptoms of disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are all symptoms. They are symptoms of underlying serious health issues. For example, high blood pressure is a symptom of obesity, poor nutrition, unhealthy arteries, stress, ect. On the other hand obesity, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and stress are all causes of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. To truly become healthy you need to treat the underlying causes and not just the symptoms of disease. Medications tend to treat the symptoms, but not the underlying causes. Taking high blood pressure medication will lower your blood pressure (which is important) but will not cure it. Statin medications will lower your cholesterol, but it goes back up once you stop them. In essence, medication covers up the real underlying issues. The ways to cure high blood pressure include losing weight, improving nutrition, and exercise. Ways to cure high cholesterol include weight loss, eating less saturated fat, eating more fiber, and exercise. Your goal should be a cure. By improving your overall health, less medication becomes necessary. Diabetics can naturally lower blood sugars through weight loss, improved diet and exercise. By lowering blood sugars naturally, less medication is required. Taking medications is very important, but should be thought of as a short term solution (if possible). Discuss curing yourself of your diseases with your personal physician. Never stop or decrease any medication without first discussing with your personal physician. You do not want to increase your risk of a serious event. Have long term goals. Be patient. By slowly improving your lifestyle, you will become healthier as will your arteries, heart and brain. The goal should be a long term “cure”!

Eat More Beans for Good Health

Eat more beans for good health. Beans are a low fat, vitamin and fiber rich, high protein and inexpensive food. Beans can lower cholesterol levels, fight heart disease, stabilize blood sugar and reduce obesity. Beans are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Beans can be a good alternative to meat. Beans are an excellent source of fiber. The soluble fiber in beans can help lower cholesterol levels naturally and can help stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics. Lentils have 8 grams of fiber per half cup, black beans and pinto beans have 7.5 grams per half cup, and chickpeas have 4 grams per half cup. Fiber helps fill you up with less calories which helps you to lose weight. Beans have a low calorie density – a key to losing weight and keeping it off. Beans are high in folate which can help reduce homocysteine levels. High homocysteine levels can damage the arteries. Furthermore, evidence suggests beans can also reduce your risk of cancer. On the other hand, beans can cause gas. Eat small amounts at first and slowly increase the amount you eat and your body will get used to the beans. Beano can help. There are many varieties of beans to try such as black beans, lima beans, navy beans, garbazo beans, fava beans, pinto beans and cannellini beans. Try them in soup or in your salad. Beans can make good vegetarian burgers. Get creative. Make beans a regular part of your diet for good health. They are a true super food!