The principles of my diet center around one rule: avoid fast carbs.
In addition, for general health reasons, I try to avoid too much fat, empty calories, and of course I exercise. (elliptical machine is my favorite for cardio but my goal this Summer is to get a good weight routine).
Fast carbs spike your insulin which causes your body to store fat. If you avoid insulin spikes, your body will burn fat. Fast carbs are things like:
- Anything breaded
- Chips, pita chips, crackers, muffins, waffles, cookies etc
- Juices (they are very high in natural sugars)
How “fast” a portion of food is is measured by something called the glycemic index, which is a number on a scale from 0 to 100.
- Table sugar 65
- White bread 70 (worse than sugar!)
- Potatoes 73
- Pineapple 66
- Sweet potatoes 54
so those are bad…
Safe in reasonable portions
The following lower-GI carbs are all acceptable in reasonable portions
- Black beans 20
- Berries, dried apricots 30 to 40
- Lentils 29
- Grapefruit 25
- Tomatoes, peppers, spinach, lettuce – all 15
Soups tend to vary a lot.
Wine is a rather high index (50) but low actual # of carbs so the total glycemic load is low for one glass.
Unlimited (but be careful about fat and calories)
The following foods are basically unlimited BUT I don’t overdo it, you shouldn’t fill up with fat (I try to stay under the USRDA of 65g fat and 20g saturated fat). These have low GI and altogether low carb counts:
- Meat (just the steak, pork, chicken, or turkey)
- Hard liquor without mixers (no fat but lots of calories)
The curse of bread
It takes some getting used to in our society to avoid fast carbs, but particularly BREAD. Everything but everything seems to be either a sandwich or (Asian and Cuban food) comes with rice.
My arsenal of weapons
You will need to eat a LOT more protein to stay full since you are no longer ingesting the calories of your carbs. For heart and health reasons, , and you shouldn’t overdo the slow carbs (my total carbs are in the 50-80g range).
You don’t want to make up the calories with fat, as a mentioned.
You will therefore NEED protein shakes – I drink about 2 shakes a day which give you 30g protein. Tasty ones at Trader Joe’s set me back $2.29, at Costco acceptable ones are only about $1.20, and on the go at convenience stores they are expensive ($3+).
My other high protein low fat standbys:
- Greek yoghurt (0% fat, no added sugar) – buy agave syrup (which is low GI, sweet and caramel-y) at Trader Joe’s and mix in for flavor
- Egg whites (buy liquid egg whites and add them to your 2 scrambled eggs)
- Protein bars – DETOUR from Costco (be careful, most others are high in fat and fast carbs)
- Spinach – oh so good sautéed with garlic
Finally I couldn’t survive without Lose It! app on my iPhone which tracks all my nutrients easily – I can even scan barcodes of packaged foods. An app called Low GI lets me easily see if a food is high or low GI, in cases where I am not sure.