one green planet
one green planet

The pendulum swings to and fro. Sometimes this is healthy, others it’s the worst. The latest trends have been diets moving from high carb-low fat to no carb-fat friendly. Carbohydrates have become public enemy number one in recent days while fats have become increasingly “the good kind”.

In reality, answers aren’t quite so clean cut. Diets need carbohydrates, and an excess amount of fat — the good or bad kind — and it isn’t all trim waistlines and chiseled abs. And, let us not forget that just about all foods contain some fat and some carbohydrates. The idea, then, is to find those foods that are healthy within this range.

The Deal on Carb Eating

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad name more out of what we’ve done to them as opposed to intrinsically bad traits. The onslaught of refined sugars, flour and rice has taken things that are otherwise quite healthy and integral to a good, balanced meal and turned them into belly builders. It’s all this processed stuff we need to avoid. All carbohydrates needn’t be banished, and in fact, that would be foolish.

Healthy carbohydrates are actually quite effective in keeping us trim. They are high in fiber, keep the digestive system tip-top and contain less than half the calories of the equal amount of fat. In fact, over 20 percent of calories from carbohydrates are burned when the body processes them, as opposed to less the five percent of those from fat. The heart benefits, organs benefit and carbs give us energy to exercise, the most effective means of weight lose.

And, don’t forget, whole grains are not the only carbs out there. Beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits are all rich in carbohydrates that are good for you. As with the grains, the secret to getting the best from any food is to eat as simply as possible. Nothing refined, canned or microwaveable. Whole foods are naturally diet food — they don’t even have to try.

The Fat Down-Low

Now, as the rumors have told us, there are some fats out there that we should be eating, that actually help us meet dietary needs while simultaneously loosening the waistband on those jeans we barely fit in. Yes, good fats exist. There, it’s been said. The arguments have been noted and we can move on.

Eating a lot of fatty stuff still isn’t a good idea and is not the ideal way trim down. In the end, fats are super-stuffed with calories, all of which your body has to deal with. Just like the carbs of today, the fats of yesteryear received a pounding in diet plans. Fat-free and low-fat products became all the rage, but these miraculous lower fat contents usually meant more sugar and/or sodium. Not higher health value.

In the end, the fat we want comes from, like all food, those sources — avocados, cold-pressed olive oil, seeds and nuts — which are more in their natural state, not refined. And, these fats, too, are something to enjoy in moderation, supplying the body with its needs but not spoiling it into obesity.

The Bottom Line

It is possible to eat a diet with some carbs and fats and still lose weight if you opt for plant-based, whole foods with some fat and some carbs – try not to do anything in excess, and keep your intake balanced. Opt for a good balance of beans, grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds – and you really can’t go wrong!

Image source: Bill Branson / Wikimedia Commons