Carb-Counting as a Way to Plan Meals

Carb-counting is one way to make sure that your meals fit into your plan of choice. This is a practical option to ensure that you include the right amount of nutrients in your meals.

Benefits for Dieters

Once dieters learn how to count carbohydrates, it is easy to find and fit different products into their plan. Thus they can include a variety of foods, including meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables by checking the nutrition label. Another benefit is that dieters can control their glucose levels and readings. This is especially important for patients with diabetes. Moreover, it allows you to plan your meals in advance and ensure that you have a balanced menu.

Slow vs. Quick Acting Carbs

children-snacksThere is a difference between simple and complex carbohydrates, and the main one is their glycemic index value. Examples of low GI foods include porridge, oat bran, whole wheat, mushrooms, cabbage, and others. Foods with a high GI are parsnip, pumpkin, dates, instant mashed potatoes, and French fries. Products with a high glycemic index value cause spikes in insulin levels. Foods that are high in protein and fat do not have the same negative effect on glucose levels. This is why carb counting is important. It helps dieters to control their blood sugar levels, lose weight, and fight diseases such as heart problems, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and others.

How to Count Carbohydrates

One option is to check the amount of dietary fiber and carbohydrates on the nutrition label. If a product has 5 grams of dietary fiber and 18 grams of carbs, it contains 13 grams of net carbs. Check the nutrition label for sugar alcohols as well because they are more difficult to absorb. To make sure that your menu fits into your diet, you may want to consume more foundation vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, and hearty greens. Then have some high-fat foods such as cream and hard cheeses. If you find all this time consuming, there are other methods to try.

Online Tools

You can use online calculators, charts, tables, and other tools. The first thing to do is to calculate your daily recommended intake. There are calculators that help you to do this. Just enter your activity level, weight, height, sex, and age. For example, if you are a 32-year old female who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 180 pounds, your daily intake is 2051 calories to maintain your current weight. The amount of carbohydrates to consume depends on your plan of choice. If you are on the Zone Diet, for example, some 40 percent of your calories should be in the form of carbohydrates. Some plans also come with printable and downloadable food lists and carb counters to make it easier for dieters to track their daily intake. Other tools include a comprehensive database and allow you to find foods by total amount of saturated and monounsaturated fat, amount of carbohydrates, trans fat, cholesterol, and so on. You can choose between 200-gram and 100-gram servings. Another option is to base you search on a certain category, for example, sweets, snacks, oils and fats, legumes, seed and nut products, and others. The tool allows you to find foods that are lowest or highest in certain nutrients. Regardless of the tool or method of choice, the daily intake depends on whether you are on the Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Low GI, or any other plan. The most important thing is to limit the consumption of simple carbohydrates.

Online Resources