To lose weight, replace processed foods with healthy, high-fiber carbohydrates


For many people, it is not easy to discover the best diet for optimal health. But studies show that almost anyone can lose weight and improve their health by making one simple change to their diet.

The trick: ditch the processed carbs and replace them with quality carbs. These include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, quinoa, and whole grains such as brown rice, barley, farro, and steel-cut oats.

According to a large and growing body of research, this one trade-off can help you lower your risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes, lower your likelihood of dying from heart disease or stroke and help you shed pounds without counting calories.

While it sounds simple, for many people it will be a huge change. These high-quality carbohydrates make up only 9% of the total calories Americans consume.

For most people, processed, low-quality carbohydrates are an essential nutrient. They make up 42 percent of all calories Americans consume. They include the packaged foods that dominate many supermarket shelves and home dinner tables, such as white bread, pastries, pasta, bagels, and potato chips, and foods with added sugars, such as breakfast cereals, flavored yogurts, desserts, juices, and soft drinks.

What happens when you replace processed carbs with quality carbs?

Studies show that the fiber in these foods has multiple benefits. It enhances the feeling of satiety, which helps you feel full. It feeds the microbes that make up the gut microbiome, which can reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease. It improves control of blood sugar and cholesterol levels

A large meta-analysis of phlegm scalpel I studied the health effects of eating different types of carbohydrates. The analysis, based on data collected from 4,635 people in 58 clinical trials, showed that adults who ate the highest levels of whole grains, vegetables and other high-fiber carbohydrates had a 15 to 31 percent lower risk of diabetes and colorectal cancer. death from stroke or heart disease compared to people who ate the lowest amounts of these foods.

They also lost more weight – “despite not being told to eat less or do more physical activity,” said Andrew Reynolds, a nutritional epidemiologist at Otago Medical College and co-author of the research.

Why are processed carbs so bad for you?

On average, Americans eat five servings per day of foods with refined grains, such as white bread and pasta, and only one serving per day of whole grain foods, such as brown rice and barley, according to Fangfang Zhang, a nutritional epidemiologist at the hospital. . Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and author Study at JAMA An examination of the types of carbohydrates and macronutrients Americans consume.

In her research, Zhang found that Americans have reduced their intake of sweetened soft drinks and other foods with added sugar, thanks to increased public awareness about the harmful health effects of sugar.

But at the same time, we’ve been eating more and more foods with refined grains, in part because they’re so ubiquitous.

“We’re seeing a general trend towards an increase in refined grain consumption,” Zhang said. “With refined grains we miss our target.”

These foods have been stripped of their fiber, vitamins and minerals and industrially converted into flour and sugar. This causes them to be quickly absorbed by the body, which spikes blood sugar and insulin levels and activates reward regions in the brain, all of which can lead to food cravings, overeating, and a cascade of metabolic changes that deteriorate health.

Healthy carbohydrates are those that have not been highly processed and stripped of their natural fiber. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are high in fiber and packed with health-promoting nutrients that help Protects against heart disease and other major causes of death.

Here’s how to switch carbs

If your goal is to lose weight and Improve your metabolism health, you don’t need to count calories or follow a restrictive diet. Just start cutting empty carbs from your diet. Heres how to do it:

Cut out white foods. Limit foods such as cereals, pastries, white bread, white pasta, juices, sweetened beverages, and other foods that contain added sugar.

Add healthy carbs. it is easy. Eat more vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils.

Add healthy fats and protein: After eliminating these empty carbs, some people find they feel better by replacing them with foods rich in fats and protein, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, poultry, yogurt and seafood.

Add healthy grains: Try replacing highly processed white carbs with whole grains, whole wheat bread, beans, peas, lentils, legumes, quinoa, fruits, vegetables, and other unrefined carbs.

Add quality “nutrient dense” foods back into your diet. These foods have different labels that can help you identify them. Look for descriptors like “lowly processed,” “seasonal,” “grass fed,” “whole grain,” and “pasture raised.”

It may be difficult at first to cut back on some of your favorite refined carbs, but you won’t feel hungry if you replace them with high-fiber carbs and healthy fats.

Why the quality of your carbohydrates matters

in one randomized trial Posted in JAMAOverweight people who were advised to cut back on added sugar, refined grains, and highly processed foods for a year lost weight — without counting calories — and showed improvements in their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

This approach worked whether the subjects followed a relatively low-fat or relatively low-carb diet. The results show that for weight loss, diet quality trumps diet quantity, said Christopher Gardner, director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

If you want to eat a healthy diet, your first step, he said, should be to “eliminate empty calories from carbohydrates that come with only glucose and no fiber, vitamins, or minerals.”

He recommends replacing those foods with what he calls a “basic diet,” rich in plant foods that are eaten by cultures around the world, such as beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

In Latin American cuisine, red, black, and pinto beans are staples. In the Middle East, people have used chickpeas and sesame seeds to make hummus and other dishes for centuries. In India, red and yellow lentils can be found in savory dals, soups and stews. And in the Mediterranean, many dishes include things like fava beans, cannellini beans, and peas.

“Americans eat shockingly few beans, nuts and seeds,” he said. “We should eat more like these other cultures around the world.”

Do you have a question about healthy eating? e-mail We may answer your question in a future column.

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