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Hot Diet and Fitness Trends for 2005

Low-carb is out; satiety is in.

Low Carb on Its Way Out continued...

ADA spokeswoman Cynthia Sass, RD, says that consumers have finally become clued in to the underlying flaws in the "good food, bad food" approach to eating. "When you single out one nutrient and try to make healthy eating all about that, it doesn't work," she says. "When we were fat-phobic, taking fat out meant putting sugar in. Now, taking carbs out means putting fat in. There are low-carb foods on the market that have more total net calories than their original versions because the manufacturer has replaced those carbs with fat."

The plus side of the low-fat to low-carb pendulum, predicts Sass, is that consumers may have learned a little more about the idea of balance in food choices from these wild back-and-forth swings. "It doesn't have to be all or nothing, it's really about how much you're taking in of any nutrient compared to what your body needs," she says.

So what might replace carb counting in the hearts, minds, and waistlines of weight-conscious Americans?

The New Satiety Diet

The satiety diet involves eating more of the kinds of foods that make you feel full but don't make you fat. Penn State nutrition expert Barbara Rolls, PhD, calls it "volumetrics," and will release a companion book to her 2003 release, The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories, in the spring. Diet experts think it's an idea whose time has finally come.

"People have often associated volume with calories, but that's not true," says Sass of the ADA. "Now they're starting to get the message that two foods can have the exact same nutritional value and calorie count, but one may have a much greater volume -- which means it makes you feel full faster. People like this, because it's satisfying, takes longer to eat, and makes you feel like you've had more food."

Consider, for example, grapes versus raisins. They're more or less the same thing: a raisin is a dried grape. But 100 calories of raisins fill only a quarter of a cup, while 100 calories of fresh, whole grapes fill nearly 2 cups. The difference, of course, is water content. "When a lot of the content of the food is water, that portion of the food basically doesn't count toward your calorie intake," says Sass. "You'll feel satisfied after eating 2 cups of grapes, but if you're eating raisins, you're more likely to keep tossing them in your mouth."

The point, she says, isn't to stop eating raisins (or chocolate, cheese, and other high-calorie, low-volume foods). Remember, we're not about eliminating entire categories of food from our diets anymore. Instead, fill up first on foods that are high in volume but low in calories, so you don't gorge on the low-volume treats.

Foods that are high on the satiety scale include those that are naturally rich in water: fruits, vegetables, beans, fish, and poultry. Anything that contains fiber, such as high-fiber cereals, will also last longer in your system, says dietitian Taub-Dix. "High-fiber foods create bulk, especially when they're combined with liquids like water or milk."

Nutrition expert Rolls also recommends "water-rich dishes" as part of the satiety plan -- foods such as soups, stews, and casseroles (they're back!). Even calorie-dense foods like pasta can be OK, if you go light on the noodles and heavy on accompanying vegetables.

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