Let me guess, you feel like you’ve tried almost everything. From Weight Watchers to the DASH diet, maybe even a little bit of the Whole 30, and you can’t seem to figure out why you aren’t losing that weight for good. Even if you think you’re eating the right things, these two foods could be the secret culprits that are slowing your weight loss down: Refined carbs and sugar.
Maybe this isn’t new to you since it can be kind of obvious. Surely, if you cut back on these foods and portion control everything you’re eating that should make a difference in your weight loss, right? Think again!
The New York Times recently wrote about a study that proved portion-controlled programs wrong. In it, they explain that the quality of your food is actually way more beneficial to your weight loss success compared to the quantity of your food. Sure you’re eating less pasta, but have you truly considered the quality of the pasta on your plate?
By concentrating on the quality of your food, you’ll be making healthier choices that have long-term benefits (and in return, help you with those weight loss goals). In this study, some people lost up to 50 or even 60 pounds. And not only that, but it completely changed their relationship with food.
One trick is to avoid those “low-fat” labels. Yes, they be promoted as a healthier version, but in reality, they’re probably filled with processed ingredients (and could even be higher in sugar). Although the study did show that those who tested the “low-fat” foods did lose some weight, it wasn’t sustainable weight loss compared to those who were eating better quality, healthier food.
“We really stressed to both groups again and again that we wanted them to eat high-quality foods,” Dr. Gardner, the lead researcher, said in his interview with The New York Times. “We told them all that we wanted them to minimize added sugar and refined grains and eat more vegetables and whole foods. We said, ‘Don’t go out and buy a low-fat brownie just because it says low fat. And those low-carb chips—don’t buy them, because they’re still chips and that’s gaming the system.’”
In the United States, it’s estimated that a person will consume 34 teaspoons of sugar a day on average. That’s a lot compared to what we should have. The American Heart Association recommends that women have only 6 teaspoons a day, and for men it’s 9. Sugar provides us with calories, but not the nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy. These limits are set to ensure that we get all the nutrients we need in a day without consuming too many calories. Here’s how to reduce your sugar intake for good.
Also, by having more sugar, you end up craving sweet foods and will tend to be on the lookout for your next sugar “fix”. Yes, it really can be associated with addiction. Scientists for the U.S National Institute on Drug Abuse found a similar response in the brain for people addicted to sugar compared to people addicted to cocaine and alcohol.
Why Refined Carbs?
If you’re not sure, refined carbs are probably what you would find to be “normal” carbs. They include white bread, pasta, rice, flour and much more. Although delicious, they’re made from refined grains that have been stripped of most nutrients and fiber that are included in whole grains. Plus, they’re foods that are really easy to overeat!
However, as Julie Jones, a professor of food and nutrition at St. Catherine University, once said to the Washington Post, “carbs aren’t the enemy.” It’s overconsumption of these foods that sets one back on their weight loss goals. It’s also the type of carbohydrates that makes a difference. Look for whole grain bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and other unrefined grains. You’ll get more fiber and B vitamins, plus that extra fiber will help keep you full longer. This whole grain recipe collection is a good place to start if you need some inspiration.
So What Should I Eat?
Instead of focusing on cutting foods out for good, think about ways to add more nutritious choices throughout your day. For breakfast, skip the oversized white bagel with cream cheese and enjoy a slice of whole grain toast with a poached egg and fresh tomato salsa (or try trendy avocado toast). Switch up pasta dishes by using whole grain noodles and bulk it up with lots of added veggies, which are loaded with nutrients, but low in calories. Instead of just having a tiny scoop of ice cream for dessert, for the same calories and more nutrition, you could enjoy a plate full of grilled pineapple or peaches. These small changes will make a big difference in meeting your weight loss goals and have a lasting effect on your health.
Start making healthier choices today!