By Nina Nethery
Carb-conscious living is a healthy choice for everyone. We all feel better when we keep our sugar levels low and steady every day. Plus, with fewer highly-processed foods and refined sugars in our systems, our bodies function better to fight off minor illnesses and major diseases.
While a very low level of carbohydrate consumption promises weight loss, a slightly higher level will help you maintain your weight at a healthy level. In general, those who are struggling to lose weight should keep their carb consumption down to 24 to 40 grams per day. (Note that the goal of low-carb dieting is never 0 carbs!)
Those who have reached their goal weight but still have a tendency to gain should stay at the 40-60 grams per day level. The lucky few who have great metabolism can edge up to 90 grams per day, while those who exercise regularly can go a bit higher. But be very aware – one glazed donut at breakfast, a sub roll at lunch, a baked potato at dinner, and a piece of chocolate layer cake totals over 100 very empty carbs!
A key question to ask yourself is at what level of carbohydrate consumption do you feel best? Some people find they feel better on a low level of carbs—perhaps only 35 or 40 grams a day, such as two salads and a couple of helpings of other vegetables! Other people feel best on twice that amount of carbohydrate and have the metabolism to support it.
As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down. This means that a carb-consumption level that seemed acceptable in your 30s may bring on the pounds when you are in your 40s, and high carb levels will become increasingly problematic in the decades after that.
Follow these recommendations for permanent success:
• Be food aware—remember that fresh meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, nuts, seeds and occasional fruits and starches are the foods nature intended you to eat. The packaged, refined-carbohydrate stuff in the supermarket puts garbage into your stomach and money in somebody else's pocket!
• Be endlessly wary of sugar, corn syrup, white flour and cornstarch. Look at the labels of any packaged food you are considering, checking both the ingredients and the carbohydrate content.
• Learn to count Net Effective Carbs. Being carb-conscious means learning to subtract fiber and sugar alcohols from the Total Carbohydrates listed on food labels, and noting the serving size. You may want to carry a pocket-sized carb-counter with you until you have learned which foods to avoid.
• Individualize your personal eating plan. Try new foods. Increase the variety of foods that you like and enjoy. These will help prevent you from going back to eating the “bad” foods you craved in the past.
• Continue taking your vita-nutrient supplements.
• Keep caffeine and alcohol consumption to a minimum.
• If you start to gain weight, promptly lower your daily carb consumption until you have returned to your goal weight.
• Make exercise a regular part of your life.
Note: Much of the information for this article came from the Atkins Center website, www.Atkins.com. Please visit this site for more information. LoCarbDiner.com is a certified Atkins Retail store.