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New diet allows you to embrace carbohydrates

September 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The low-carbohydrate craze has lost its luster, yet many continue to count their carbs to control weight. So does a diet promoting bread, pasta and potatoes make sense? Here's a look at a new diet that has those crazy for carbs putting pasta on their plate."You know, it's amazing, isn't it? Everyone is so scared of eating carbs, but the fact is that the people who eat carbs are actually the slimmest," said Ellen Kunes, editor of Health Magazine.

Kunes co-authored "The Carb Lovers Diet" with Health Magazine's resident dietitian, Frances Largeman-Roth. The plan recommends carbohydrates as a prominent part of our plate, as food scientists have found an ingredient called "resistant starch," found in many carbohydrates, helps burn fat by increasing metabolism, curbing cravings and regulating blood sugar.

Like the once-forbidden banana, especially if it's slightly under-ripe.

"They contain as much as 12.5 grams of resistant starch a day," said Kunes. "Now what you need a day of resistant starch is 10 to 15 grams."

Resistant starch helps fill you up without weighing you down.

Even pasta that's not whole grain has it, and so does white rice. This secret ingredient helps many who prefer these foods to have a bit without guilt. Although clearly nutritional components aren't the same as whole-grain versions.

"We don't gain weight by eating it," said Kunes. "But at the same time it turns the liver into its fat-burning mode, and that's how it boosts fat burning."

This diet wants you to get 10 to 15 grams of resistant starch daily. Most of us typically get less than 5 grams.

The good news is these healthy carbohydrates can help you cut cravings and feel more satisfied, but the bad news is portion control is key. So while you can have bread, pasta, potatoes, fruit -- even bananas -- you should eat them in controlled quantity, like a half a cup of pasta or one slice of bread.

More good news is dieters can eat out! Their suggestions: a Wendy's baked potato, Olive Garden lunch portion of shrimp primavera, a small Jamba Juice, a Starbucks Apple Bran Muffin, or a 6-inch Subway sandwich.

Like many diets, this one has a few phases. The kick-start first week has only 1,200 calories daily, which many experts frown upon. Yet Kunes contends most dieters are satisfied due to the "feel-good" effects of carbs.

"We've found that people on average lose about 6 pounds in the first week and then they lose about 12 pounds in the first month, depending on how much they have to lose," said Kunes.

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