Kilojoules matter most when you’re trying to shed kilos, but carbs are a close second. Still, there’s no need to go all Atkins, toting a wheel of cheese and a slab of sirloin around, says dietitian Stephanie Middleberg. Carbs are essential for energy – plus, what’s life if you can never eat pasta again? Different strategies work for different people, so pick the mini plan here that you’re most likely to stick to.
1. Follow the 2-3-3 rule
People tend to overeat carbs more than anything else, so counting servings will naturally keep kilojoules under control, Middleberg says. Aim for no more than two servings a day of grains (a serving is half a cup of rice or noodles, or two slices of bread), up to three servings of fruit and no more than three 220ml servings of dairy. You’ll get faster results if you go for healthier grains, as in Option 2, but even if you don’t, this plan will help you slim down. As for desserts? Have something small, once a week!
2. Go caveman
Our ancestors survived without bread, and they were a lot slimmer. Adherents to the Paleolithic-type diet eschew anything that wouldn’t have been on a caveman’s table, including bread and pasta. You eat lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and fish. Experts tell us that a ‘Paleo’ plan – which you can find in books or at www.thepaleodiet.com – can be healthy if done right, but it’s extreme for most. If you’re thinking about this or any other drastic diet changes, check with a pro first.
3. Eat carbs, don’t drink them
What do orange juice, a vodka tonic and fizzy drinks have in common? They’re all pure carbs, and they each have 420kJ or more. One of the simplest ways to lose weight is to swap sugary beverages for water or other carb-free drinks like plain coffee.
4. Eat only the right carbs
Foods made with white flour – like white bread, white pasta and doughnuts – are digested quickly, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar and make you hungrier. Plus, ‘you hold more water if you eat a lot of simple carbs, and get that puffy look’, Middleberg says. Choose complex carbs instead, like brown rice, beans and whole grains. They contain much more fibre, the magic ingredient that foils overeating by making you feel full.