If the thought of giving up pasta and bread in the name of losing weight makes your blood run cold, this diet was designed for you.
The CarbLovers Diet actually encourages you to have more carbs, as long as you pick the right ones.
The diet claims you’ll drop up to 8 pounds in 30 days by combining everyday healthy foods with "carb stars" -- foods rich in resistant starch.
Found in lentils, garbanzo beans, brown rice, and certain other carbs, this type of starch resists digestion in the small intestine. It passes through your body without entering your bloodstream and breaking down into glucose (blood sugar) like other foods.
This starch works, in part, by making you feel full. The authors claim it also promotes fat-burning, and helps keep your blood sugar levels in check.
You eat a lot of resistant starch on this plan: two to three times as much as most people eat.
In your first week on the diet, you get only 1,200 calories per day -- and you’ll lose up to 6 pounds, say authors Ellen Kunes (editor-in-chief of Health magazine) and Frances Largeman-Roth, RD.
After that, you’ll eat 1,600 calories in three meals and two snacks per day, with a "carb star" at every meal.
What You Can Eat and What You Can't
You can have any food in moderation, even potato chips. But refined starches, like white pasta, white rice, white bread, and low-fiber cereals, are discouraged.
The main rule is to fill one-quarter of your plate with a resistant starch. Sources include green bananas, uncooked toasted oatmeal, legumes, whole wheat pasta (preferably cooked al dente), and potatoes that have been cooked and cooled.
The rest of your plate should contain lean meats, low-fat dairy, good fats, fruits, and vegetables.
Level of Effort: Medium
This diet isn’t hard to follow, once you get past the week of eating only 1,200 calories per day.
Limitations: Nothing is banned.
Cooking and shopping: If you use the meal plans and recipes found in the 21-day “immersion plan,” you’ll be making most of your meals and snacks from scratch. If you don’t, it may be harder to follow the diet, though the book offers food lists and diet-appropriate fast-food ideas. More recipes are available in The CarbLovers Diet Cookbook.
Packaged foods or meals: None required.
In-person meetings: No.
Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?
Aside from eating a resistant starch at every meal, you can choose what foods to eat. So this plan could work for vegetarians and vegans, as well as those on low-salt, low-fat, and gluten-free diets.
What Else You Should Know
Cost: Just your groceries.
Support: You do this diet on your own.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Does It Work?
Though research hasn't been done on the CarbLovers Diet itself, there is evidence that eating a diet high in complex carbs and fiber can help you lose weight. It helps by making you feel full and keeping your body from storing fat.
This plan only allows for 1,200 calories a day for the first week and then 1,600 after that. The calorie limit alone will help you shed any extra weight.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?
If you have diabetes, choosing high-fiber, complex carbs over simple ones will help keep blood sugar levels steady and help the body use glucose more effectively. But the diet’s emphasis on carbs may be at odds with your diabetes treatment plan.Talk to your doctor or dietitian first to be sure this diet fits into your plan.
As for other conditions, losing excess weight, eating fiber-rich carbs, and avoiding high-fat dairy are also your best bets to lower cholesterol and boost heart health.
Since no food is off limits on this plan, though, you’ll need to choose carefully to make sure you don’t go over your sodium, fat, or cholesterol limits.
The Final Word
With the CarbLovers Diet, you’ll be able to eat the foods you want as long as you keep your calories in check and follow the plan’s rules.
The diet also helps you make lifestyle changes that can get your eating habits on the right track. But you’ll still need to make many healthy choices on your own.
If you prefer dining out to cooking at home, you may find it hard to stick with the plan.
If you haven’t already been eating a lot of high-fiber carbs, start slowly. Otherwise you might feel bloated and gassy until your system gets used to the fiber.
Check with your doctor before starting this plan if you have any medical problems or if you've been inactive.