Counting Carbs or Making Carbs Count

Are you counting carbs, calories or even fat?  Are you confused as to what to track and record?  Trust me, you are not alone.  When trying to lose weight it can be very confusing as to what you should count and track.

In short, to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit, meaning you have to consume fewer calories than you burn.

With this said you would think that tracking calories is all you need to worry about.

Well, despite the simple formula for losing weight, counting carbohydrates in addition to your calories can make the difference between losing weight and losing control. 

Don’t let this statement scare you as I am not saying to avoid all carbohydrates.  In fact, carbs are a critical energy and nutritional source that you need in order to function properly. 

However, not all carbs are created equal.  There are good carbs and bad carbohydrates.  So instead of just counting carbs, learn to make your carbs count.  Here are some tips to help you choose the right carbs and lose weight.

Tip # 1- Count the Fiber

When counting carbs be sure to look at the label for the fiber content as well. 

You see, the only carbs that count are what is called “Effective Carbohydrate Count (ECC) or usable carbs.

Watch the Fats!

Don't forget to look at the fat content as well.

Although we need certain fats, like Omega 3 fats, try to avoid foods that are high in fats, especially saturated fats and trans fats.
Since fiber is a carb that simply passes through your system, these are not available for energy and therefore do not count. 

To determine the ECC, take the total carbs minus the fiber to determine your carbohydrates that count. 

So when selecting your foods look for high fiber foods to reduce the carb count in your diet. High fiber foods have many health benefits in addition to the weight loss help.

Tip # 2 -Go Low

Go Low! Low Glycemic Index foods that is.   One of the main reasons carbohydrates have gotten a bad name over these past years is due to the impact it can have on our glucose, or blood sugar level. 

Many low carb diets will promote the foods that are low on the glycemic index. 

The glycemic index, or GI, measures foods based on the impact each food item has on the blood glucose level. 

Those low on the index have the least impact and fluctuation on our levels and insulin levels. 

Foods that land in the range of 55 or less on this index are the “good” carbs and are considered low GI foods. 

Moderate GI foods range from 56 to 69 and foods higher than 70 on the index are high glycemic index foods. 

In general, most veggies are in the low category with some vegetables like potatoes, carrots, corn and beets being a bit higher. 

Tip # 3-Make it Nutritional

When counting carbs, one of the best ways to ensure the carbohydrates are the most effective is to make it nutritional.

This means if you are consuming carbs, why not make it healthier.  Instead of reaching for that piece of cake packed with sugar and non nutritional carbs, opt instead for a piece of fruit. 

Although many fruits can be high in carbs, they offer our bodies with a multitude of vitamins and minerals. 

Your foods should be as close to natural as possible to get the most from the nutritional value.  For instance, an apple will offer more fiber, vitamins and minerals than a cup of apple juice. 

Not only is it in its natural state but there are no added ingredients like sugar or sugar substitutes.  This is one way to ensure your carbs count.

Tip # 4-Whole vs Processed

Let’s face it; some foods are just higher in carbohydrates than others.  Breads and cereals are good examples.  Both these types of foods can really start to rack up the carb count.  So when you want these foods, opt for the whole grains versus processed selections. 

Counting Carbs for Diabetes

If you are a diabetic then counting carbs can help you control your glucose levels.

Read more about diebetic diets and how you can take control.
For example, a slice of white bread, made with processed flour, has slightly higher calories and more effective carbs. 

On the other hand, a slice of 100% whole wheat bread is both lower in calories and carbohydrates. 

So not only are you consuming fewer calories but you are making your carbs count and getting more nutritional value for those carbs.

So remember don’t just count carbs – make your carbs count.

In addition to counting carbs for weight loss, here are some tips on cutting calories.

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