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Cut the Fat! Cut the Carbs!

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/21/2006 | Food & Drink
You've heard the popular advice on weight loss diets. Cut the fat! Cut the carbs! Cut the calories! Eat a balanced diet! But how can you cut though all of the confusion, and eat a diet that's balanced and healthy?

Here's the advice from nutritional science:

Cut the JUNK fats: Most people do not need an ultra low fat diet. But most of us could improve our diet by cutting out the junk fats. Basically, these are the processed fats: hydrogenated fats, polyunsaturated oils that have been heated, and fats that are combined with junk carbs. Processed fats are the fats most likely to put on flab and clog your arteries.

Cut the JUNK carbs. Most people do not need an ultra low carb diet. But unfortunately, so many people who go on a low fat diet continue to eat highly processed foods - they switch from processed high-fat to processed low-fat. And when food manufacturers create low fat foods, they tend to replace the fat with junk carbs, which tend to pile on the pounds. Basically, junk carbs are low-fiber carbs, like sugar, fructose (and all the other oses), flour, cornstarch, fruit juice. Yes, fruit juice is a junk carb too! - After all, how much fiber is there in fruit juice? - Virtually none - it's yet another junk carb. You should eat the whole fruit instead, with its fiber intact.

Cut the JUNK calories. Most people do not need an ultra low calorie diet. But just think what your diet would be like if you dropped the processed fats and the low-fiber carbs. You'd be eating mainly natural proteins, with lots of vegetables plus whole fruits - and the odds are that you would be eating far fewer calories as well. That's the kind of calorie cutting most of us should be doing.

Eat a balanced NATURAL-FOODS diet. By natural foods, we mean the foods that would have been eaten by your hunter-gatherer ancestors: - lots of whole vegetable foods for vitamins and fiber; moderate to small portions of meats, fish, seafood, and other animal and protein foods, grilled, stewed or baked; and small portions of fresh whole fruit in season. This is the diet on which the human race evolved, and the diet which, for the vast majority of people, makes for optimum health

So the next time you're about to order a meal with fries and sugary soda, think about how it could be improved. Replace the fries with a salad, and the soda with mineral water, and you've already made significant progress towards a healthier, balanced meal.

And at home, look for recipes that use whole, fresh foods, with a minimum of processing. Make sure your meals include natural unprocessed foods, with lots of healthy vegetables, both cooked, and raw in salads. Avoid processed fats and processed low-fiber foods.

A sample menu:
- grilled fish with steamed green beans, and peppers
- large mixed salad, dressed with small amounts of olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice
- fresh fruit platter

Yes - A healthy, balanced diet can be that simple!