Slow-carb diet is the new craze, but is it crazy? The short answer is no. If you”re a veteran of low-carb dieting who”s won the short-term weight loss battle but lost the long-term weight maintenance war, the so-called “slow carb” lifestyle may be a strategy worth considering.
The slow-carb diet is based on the fact that not all carbs are created equal. Some have a low glycemic index, meaning they have a modest effect on blood sugar levels, whereas others have a high glycemic index, causing dramatic spikes in blood sugar after meals. Since spikes in blood sugar drive high production of the hormone insulin–which then promotes fat storage and retention–a diet that keeps insulin levels moderate and consistent throughout the day tends to help with weight loss.
What are “slow carbs”?
“Slow carbs” are also known as complex carbs: carbohydrates that are higher in fiber and long starch chains that take time to break down. Examples include whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits.
How are “slow carbs” different than “simple carbs”?
Compared to “simple carbs” like sugar and refined grains such as white flour, they have a more modest effect on raising blood sugar levels. When paired in a meal with proteins and healthy fats– neither of which produces any notable glycemic effect– slow carbs are key to long-lasting energy, longer post-meal satiety, long-term maintenance of weight loss, and a lower risk of many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Ready to go slow? Try these tips to get you started:
- Ditch sugary foods and drinks. Note many seemingly healthy foods like energy bars, yogurts, cereal and granola are usually loaded with added sugar.
- Eat your fruit whole and fresh. Avoid fruit juices, dried fruit, or snacks sweetened with “fruit juice concentrates.”
- Read labels of breads, cereals, crackers and snacks to ensure “whole grain” flours and bran, such as whole wheat/wheat bran, whole oats/oat bran, brown rice/rice bran, are listed first. “Enriched flour” is code for refined/white flour; avoid it whenever possible.
- Replace white rice, potatoes, pasta and corn with higher fiber alternatives like brown or wild rice, quinoa, barley or sweet potatoes with skin.
- Load up on veggies! At lunch and dinner, aim to cover half your plate with vegetables.
- Beans, lentils and soybeans/tofu are terrific slow carb foods that are filling, low in calories, and high in protein. Try to eat some every day.
- Pair your carbs with foods containing protein and/or healthy fats whenever possible. Turkey or chicken breast, tuna and other fish, eggs, low fat dairy, nuts/peanut butter and avocado are all great choices.
- Need inspiration? Look up your favorite foods in the to help you stay focused on the slowest carb choices.