The Glycemic Index Diet (Low-Glycemic Diet)
How to Choose Healthier Carbs continued...
In general, all whole fruits and vegetables are healthy carbs, even if some are a little higher in natural sugars than others.
When trying to find the best quality carbs using the food label, Harvard researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, recommends looking for carbs that are the least processed, whole grain, and contain plenty of fiber.
Another approach, Mozaffarian says, is to look at the ratio of total carbohydrates to dietary fiber per serving. This figure includes sugars, and when the ratio is 10:1 or more, keep looking until you find one that is less than 5:1.
If that is too complicated, try following the guidance from My Plate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines, which will help you make healthier choices. That includes filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and the other half with grains and proteins.
"It is better to focus on eating an overall healthier diet (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, low-fat dairy, nuts), increase fiber intake, and decrease processed foods," Warshaw says.
There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all for weight control. And no single factor defines the perfect nutritional diet.
If you don't get too hung up on the numbers and use common sense to select healthy, less processed, wholesome carbs, a glycemic index diet can help you choose healthier carbs. Keep in mind that you must also control portion sizes and total calories, and get regular physical activity.
Any diet you can stick with long term is the right one for you. "Make healthy food choices that you can live with forever because there really is no value in going on a diet plan for two weeks if you can’t sustain it," Warshaw says.
Further research is needed to reach consensus on whether the glycemic index works as a long-term weight loss plan.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.