I’m often asked about my diet. And one of the most common questions I get is, “Do you eat carbs?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And I’m happy to explain why.
With the popularity of low-carb diets, many people have come to think of carbohydrates as the enemy. I hear it all the time—women talking about how they can’t eat this or that because of the carb content. But really, carbs have just gotten a bad rep. Eating a low-carb diet doesn’t mean eating no carbs. It means choosing the right kind of carbs and consuming correct portion sizes.
For an active individual, about 55 percent of total caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, with most of them being good, complex carbs. An extremely low-carb or no-carb diet may help with weight loss, but avoiding any one food group can have this effect. Eating too few carbs, or none at all, will leave you feeling lethargic and cause fuzzy thinking. Then, when you add carbs back into your diet, the weight you lost is likely to return. So you’ve deprived yourself and endured feeling awful for no reason.
If you’ve been eating well but have reached a plateau on your diet, try lowering your carb intake for two to three weeks. Continue to eat slow-burning carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice and vegetables, but gradually lower intake to keep your insulin levels balanced. Be sure to eat five to six times per day, including a smaller portion (less than you usually consume) of a complex carb with every meal.
Atkins Day Break Bars are a good choice for a low-carb snack, with just 3 net carbs per serving. For a meal replacement, try an Atkins Advantage RTD Shake. With only 2 net carbs and 15 grams of protein, they make a good light meal—and they taste great, with flavors such as Café Caramel, Milk Chocolate Delight and Mocha Latte.
Remember to stay away from sugar (a simple carbohydrate) and be aware of hidden sugars in foods such as ketchup, barbeque sauces, deli meats and fruit-filled yogurt. These carbs can quickly add up and sabotage your efforts.
Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.