Come the end of the holiday season, many people resolve to rest, recharge and get back to healthy eating habits.
Time magazine reports that losing weight and getting fit are the most popular New Year’s resolutions, but also the ones that people are most likely to abandon after a short time. That may be because New Year’s dieters are too often choosing diets that are impractical and not conducive to long-term success. Some may stop eating certain foods or ingredients entirely, while others look to diets that require a level of commitment beyond busy adults’ capabilities.
Many fad diets target fat and carbohydrates, but dieters may not know that fat and carbs are necessary for a healthy metabolism. According to Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, low-fat diets don’t work for many people. In fact, dozens of studies have found that low-fat diets are no more healthy than moderate or high-fat diets and may, in fact, be worse. Foods that are low in fat may be full of ingredients that can be detrimental when eaten in high amounts. Processed low-fat foods can be made to taste better with copious amounts of salt or sugar. Some low-fat foods are actually high in simple carbohydrates, which can cause spikes in blood sugar and increase bad fats called triglycerides in the blood.
Simple carbohydrates are generally those that break down fast and do not provide much value beyond the initial energy burst. Although some simple carbs, such as fructose and lactose, can be beneficial and are generally found in healthy foods, it’s best to avoid simple carbs.
Eating healthy doesn’t mean avoiding carbohydrates and fats altogether. The key is to find good fats and carbs that provide a host of benefits. Good fats, such as monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, help to manage mood, maintain mental acuity, fight fatigue, and control weight. Good fats are largely found in olives, nuts, legumes, soy and fatty fish. Keep total fat intake to 20% to 30% of your calories.
Good carbs are complex carbohydrates. They’re starches that take a longer time to metabolize in your digestive system. Good carbs will raise blood sugar, but they will keep it at a stable level for an extended period of time. Complex carbs usually contain a lot of fiber, which can help keep a person feeling full for long periods of time. Plus, they help keep digestion moving smoothly to help you avoid constipation. Fibrous vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are high in fiber and are good carbohydrate choices. Some foods contain both good carbs and good fats.
Eating healthy means finding a balance that includes the right fats and carbohydrates.