Low-carbohydrate diets have become the go-to diet for some individuals looking for quick weight loss. However, your body requires at least 130 grams of carbohydrate each day in order to provide your brain with the energy to function properly. Forty-five to 65 percent of your diet should consist of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come in different forms, those that comprise sugary and unhealthy starchy foods and those that are found in healthy foods like whole grains, milk and fruit. Make healthy carbohydrate choices so that your body receives enough energy, but stick to the appropriate serving sizes to avoid going overboard.
In addition to containing carbohydrates, fruit provide many essential vitamins and minerals to help protect you from diseases. Consume two to four servings of a variety of fruits every day. One small fresh fruit, one-fourth cup of dried fruit, 17 grapes, one-half of a banana and 1 cup of melon are the appropriate serving sizes. Try a new fruit that you see at the market or a fruit that you have not eaten in a while. Variety is key.
Milk and yogurt are good carbohydrate choices when planning your meals. Fortified products contain vitamin D and calcium, which are necessary for bone health. The recommended serving sizes include 1 cup of fat-free cow's milk, 1 cup of soy milk and two-thirds cup of fat-free yogurt. Consume two to three servings every day to maximize your health.
Beans and Starchy Vegetables
Beans and starchy vegetables, such as peas, corn, sweet potatoes, winter squash and white potatoes, provide fiber and protein to your body. One-half cup is considered one serving size of each. Try measuring out your portions, as you are likely consuming more than you think. One-half cup of beans and starchy vegetables can help you reach your goals, especially if placed on top of a salad.
Sometimes starches are thought of as unhealthy foods; however, they are often fortified with B vitamins that aid in metabolism. Also, if you consume 100 percent whole-grain starches, the fiber will help you stay fuller longer. The appropriate portion sizes include one slice of bread, one tortilla, three-fourths cup of ready-to-eat cereal, one-half cup of cooked cereal, four to six small crackers, one-half cup of pasta or rice and 3 cups of air-popped popcorn. You should consume six to 11 servings of starches every day, depending on your weight, height and health goals.
For those of you struggling with a sweet tooth, cutting out desserts is not necessary. However, do yourself a favor and memorize the appropriate portion sizes. Knowledge is power. When eating desserts the appropriate servings sizes include a 2-inch-square piece of cake, two small cookies and one-half cup of ice cream. Your self-control may be put to the test at first, but after a while it will become second nature.
- Krause's Food & Nutrition Therapy; L. Kathleen Mahan, Sylvia Escott-Stump
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