Does eating a diet high in complex carbohydrates, a good idea for obese folks?

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For several years, I have read that it is desirable to eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates from bread, pasta, potatoes and such, but recently read an article that appears to indicate that for obese folks like myself (female, 5 feet 3 inches, 247 pounds) this might not be such a good idea. If I understand the article correctly, it appears that these foods may be just as bad for you as high-fat meats and salad dressings.

Currently, I am on a 1200 calorie per day diet based on diabetic exchanges and have lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks. Other than being obese and having arthritis in my ankle (that prevents me from doing much walking), I am in good health. I ride a stationary bike for 40 minutes (8 miles) 5 to 6 times per week. Although I have to fight my tendency to binge on bread and pasta, it is somewhat distressing to me that these foods that help me to feel “satisfied” so to speak may not be as good for me as it was once thought – and may even undermine my weight loss efforts.

What are your thoughts on this?

By the way, I find your page to be very informative. Thank you!

Well, nutritional recommendations constantly evolve with current research if from a professional source. However since everyone on this planet eats, everyone has an opinion or testimonial on what works for them. I would recommend dietitians as a source of nutrition information as well as government, colleges, and universities. While 44 states license who can call themselves a dietitian or nutritionist, some people who have an interest in nutrition like to call themselves nutritionists.

You’re right in that we previously recommended weight loss plans high (60 to 70%) in carbohydrates with the most coming from complex rather than simple carbohydrates (sugars). But now that recommendation has been reduced to 50 to 55% for exchange-based weight loss plans.

In regards to undermining your weight loss efforts, I do not believe that your eating a high carbohydrate plan has lessened your weight loss because you have lost almost 3 pounds per week. Congratulations. Besides, you are also limiting calories to 1200. Calories do count when attempting to change your weight. Have you tried my Healthy Body Calculator®? After you type in your physical data and weight goals (lose 1 to 2-pounds a week), this calculator will determine a Calorie Goal for you which may be higher than you currently eat. On the calculator results page is a button for “do you need a healthy eating plan”.  Click it and your data will be transferred to HELP Healthy Eating For Life Plan® which I developed to create personalized eating plans. You can choose what type of milk, meat, beans or not, and snacks or not. I would suggest you redo both calculators after every 10-pound weight loss as your Calorie Goal will change and you will need a new eating plan to go with your new goal.

Secondly, I would not compare eating complex carbohydrates to high-fat meat and salad dressings. Fat contains more than twice the calories of carbohydrate and fat are likely to increase your blood cholesterol as well. You should limit fats to 25% to 30% of the total calories in your plan. This would be about 33 to 40 grams of fat per day on 1200 calories. Most of this would come from lean meats rather than added fats or oils. The new food label lists grams of fat and you could keep track of fats from processed foods you eat. Or you could keep food records and analyze what you eat on My Food Record a website I developed with my programmers.

Your exercise routine is good, especially if you break a sweat. Swimming is also a good exercise for persons with arthritis as it reduces the impact on weight-bearing joints like hips, knees, and ankles. There are lots of water exercises besides swimming like water aerobics. Take the plunge and contact your local YMCA or health club.

Other foods that are filling are fruits and vegetables because of their bulk. You can eat a lot of fruits and vegetables without consuming a lot of calories if you don’t add fats, sauces, or syrups.

Remember, if you don’t buy it or cook it food will have a hard time finding its way into your mouth. Go through your kitchen and give away any food that you have eliminated from your healthy eating plan so that you are in a positive environment where all you can do is succeed.

Thanks for reading.