For many of us, packing on some pounds over the winter holidays is typical. I propose the opposite this year: lose weight during December, or simply don’t gain any!
There’s too much food in general during this time, and it’s often laden with refined carbohydrates (carbs) and sugar. If you make ONE simple change for the month of December, you’ll either lose weight or at least not gain any.
What is this one simple change?
Get some basic carb education here, and then limit your consumption to moderate, low, or very low.
Let’s dig into this more. Many women aren’t clear what carbohydrates are. In a nutshell, all foods that break down into simple sugars are carbohydrates. All plant foods contain carbohydrates. In addition, milk sugars are carbohydrates. These are in yogurt, half and half, milk, and ice cream.
Plant foods may contain protein as well (like beans), and they may also contain fat (avocados, peanuts), but for this simple purpose we are categorizing all plant foods as carbohydrates.
Carbs in whole form are healthy foods and unless there’s a medical reason for avoidance, it’s important to consume them. The problem is when carbohydrates are refined into flours and sugars and packaged into giant sugar doses. We cannot consume excessive refined carbs and sugars without eventually suffering repercussions.
At no time in history have we been able to obtain an infinite amount of refined carbs and sugars 24/7. The consequences I see on a daily basis include pre-diabetes, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Usually, most of these can be prevented, and possibly reversed, with some carbohydrate education put into practice.
I also see energy swings and crashes, depression and anxiety, brain fog, gut bacterial overgrowth, and many more consequences of too much sugar.
I propose a month of carb awareness and control this December. This may not be for you. Especially if you have strong emotional attachments to carbs and sugar. However, I’ve had patients throughout the years that have joined me for a carb controlled December. They still had a great month, felt so much better, and entered January more svelte than December. WHY NOT?
If you are game, first find yourself on this chart:
Most of you reading this probably fall into the middle two rows, Moderate Carb or Low Carb. These carb amounts refer to “net carbohydrates,” meaning after fiber is subtracted. Fiber doesn’t count, because it’s food for your gut bacteria. Just to be clear, this is the amount of net carbs to eat over a given day.
I suggest doing this project for the month of December, which gives you some time to prepare this week. Pick where you fall on the above spectrum. Do not count calories, protein, or fat. Just count carbohydrates, for this month only. Let it be a carb education month. If you’re in, please comment below, so we can support one another and give suggestions. Or go over to my Facebook page for the same.
Ready, set, go!
- Calculate your standard BMI here. Or calculate your smart BMI here. Or calculate your BMI with more detail (activity level and body measurements) here.
- If your BMI is normal (under 26) and you just want to maintain weight, follow Moderate Carb levels above.
- If your BMI is 26 or higher, decide if you choose Very Low Carb or Low Carb. Most of you should choose Low Carb. Decide based on your activity level. If you are sedentary, carbs should be lower. If you are highly active, carbs should be higher on this scale.
- Download an App for looking up net carbs or tracking yours. Here are two suggestions:
Low Carb Diet Master Pro CarbsControl
All you are doing for this month is tracking and controlling NET carbs. That’s it. Use the labels on packaged foods to determine net carb amounts. Look at the carb amount per serving, subtract the fiber, and you get your total net carb amount.
Just net carbs. Nothing more, nothing less.
Use an App of your choice to look up net carbs or to keep track of them. I’m posting net carb amounts for whole foods below, so you can have a quick reference.
By the way, many restaurants have nutrient facts on their menus. Peet’s coffee does. McDonald’s does. Many others do. But it’s FAR easier (and healthier!) to eat at home while doing this because:
- You can more easily count carbs
- Restaurant food is almost always geared toward taste, and therefore, has excess sugar and carbs
Later I’ll write suggestions for eating at restaurants and at other people’s houses, and for treat and alcohol choices. I’m sure carb-educated folks out there will have more ideas to add.
Eat unlimited amounts of these carbs:
Why? They are low-carbohydrate (usually less than 5 g of net carb per cup) and have lots of great fiber!
Arugula, Asparagus, Bamboo shoots, Bean sprouts, Beet greens, Bell peppers (red, green, yellow), Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Butterbur, Cabbage, Carrots (raw), Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chives, Collard greens, Cucumber, Dandelion greens, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger root, Green beans, Hearts of palm, Jicama (raw), Jalapeno peppers, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lamb’s quarter, Lettuce, Mushrooms, Mustard greens, Onions, Parsley, Peppers (sweet green, red and yellow), Radishes, Radicchio, Snap beans, Snow peas, Shallots, Spinach, Summer squash (crookneck, scallop, straight neck, zucchini), Swiss chard, Taro (leaves or shoots), Turnip greens, Watercress. There are more, but this list covers the most common.
Nature’s dessert: fresh fruit, 15 grams per portion:
1 small Apple, 3/4 cup unsweetened Applesauce, 2 medium Apricots, 1 Avocado, 1/2 Banana, 1 cup Berries, Cherries, or Cranberries, 2 Figs, 1/2 Grapefruit, 15 Grapes, 1 large Kiwi, 3 Lemons, 2 Limes, 1/2 Mango, 1 cup Melon, 1 Nectarine, 1 Orange, 1 Peach, 2 Tangerines, 1/2 Papaya, 1/2 large Pear, 2 Persimmons, 3/4 cup Pineapple, 2 Plums, 1/3 cup cooked Plantains, 1/2 cup Pomegranate, 1 Tomato.
Careful with dried fruit, 15 grams per portion:
3 rings dried Apple, 7 halves dried Apricots, 1 TBS dehydrated banana, 2 TBS Zante Currants, 2 Dates, 1 fig, 2 halves Peaches, 1/2 dried Pear, 2 TBS raisons, 1/6 oz Sun-dried Tomato
Healthy cooked starchy carbs, 15 grams per portion:
- 1/2 cup Acorn Squash, Cassava, Corn, Green Peas, Lima Beans, Lotus Root, Turnips, Yucca
- 2/3 cup Butternut Squash, Parsnip, Pumpkin
- 1 cup Beets, Carrots, Leeks, Okra, Pumpkin, Spaghetti Squash
- 1/2 medium Potato, Sweet Potato, Yam
- 1/4 Rutabaga
Whole beans and grains, 15 grams per serving
Most whole beans (legumes) and grains contain 15 grams of carbs in a 1/3 cup serving. This is more of a condiment amount than a whole-plate amount. Exceptions:
- 1/2 cup Wild Rice
- 2/3 cup Whole Oats
- 2.5 cups Popcorn
- 1/4 cup Miso
- 1/2 cup Natto
- 1 cup Soymilk, unsweetened
- 1/2 cup Tempeh
- 1 cup Tofu
Milk (dairy) foods, 15 grams per serving:
- 1 and 1/4 cup milk (whole, 2%, or fat-free)
- 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
- 3/4 cup reduced fat yogurt (reduced fat yogurt has more carbs compared to whole milk)!
Nuts, seeds, and their butters, 5 gram portions:
While nuts and seeds are high in fat and protein, they are plants, and they still contain carbohydrates. These portions contain about five grams of net carbs:
- Between 1/4 – 1/3 cup of Nuts or Seeds
- About 2 TBS of Nut or Seed Butter
Alcohol, added sugars, treats, bread, eating out…
For these 30 days if you can, please avoid ALL added sugars. Yes, even honey. Why? Your carb content will shoot way up with these “nonfoods.” If you do want to indulge, perhaps pick one special occasion during the month of December to have a dessert or sweet treat, and savor it. You won’t gain weight from ONE special dessert this month! Another option for low-carb treats to make or buy “diabetic candy.” Look for the kind sweetened with xylitol or other sugar alcohols. You can also use stevia. These options, in moderation, won’t raise your blood sugar and cause weight gain.
As for alcohol, also pick special occasions for it, and choose “skinny drinks,” which essentially means low-carb. If you drink every weekend, you may need to take out an equivalent real carb food out of your day. There are lots of recipes for skinny cocktails.
If you eat out, choose protein and vegetables and you should be fine. If there’s a starchy vegetable or grain, divide that portion so it’s close to 1/3 cup. At work parties or any parties, eat beforehand and just socialize while there. If you go to family or friend’s for dinner, elicit help from them if needed so there is food for you.
I realize there’s much more that can be written on this topic. This post is for any of you who are ready to jump on board and do this now. I’ll be here answering questions, as well as on Facebook. I welcome YOUR input as well. Recipes, breakfast ideas, and any comments welcome!
P.S. If you’ve had your blood work done recently, and your fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C, cholesterol, triglycerides, (or blood pressure) has been high, this is for YOU! Get your tests done in January and see if you’ve improved.
Are you in? Let me know below.