Virtually every weight-loss program welcomes “good carbs” as part of a healthy, lean, long-term diet. “Good carbs” refers to complex carbohydrates, foods like whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds that are composed largely of complex sugar molecules requiring lots of time and energy to digest into the simple sugars your body needs for fuel.
One of the biggest benefits of foods rich in complex carbs is that they also contain large amounts of fiber. Fiber, in basic terms, is the indigestible parts of plant foods. It is the husk on the grain of wheat, the thin strands in celery, the crunch in the apple, the casings on edible seeds. Fiber protects you from heart disease, cancer, and digestive problems. Depending on the type of fiber (there is more than one!), it lowers cholesterol, helps with weight control, and regulates blood sugar.
Bottom line: This is one nutrient you don’t want to miss. Yet the average American gets just 12-15 grams of fiber a day—far below the recommended 25-30 grams. And that was before so many people started cutting carbs for weight loss, without realizing they were also cutting out healthy dietary fiber. Here’s how to sneak “good carbs” and extra fiber into your daily diet with a minimum of effort.
1. Eat cereal every day for breakfast. Ideally, aim for a whole grain, unsweetened cereal with at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Just eating any cereal might be enough, however. A University of California study found that cereal eaters tend to eat more fiber and less fat than non-cereal eaters. Healthy, high-fiber cereals you might want to consider include Kellogg’s All-Bran Original, Kashi GOLEAN, and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran.
2. Eat two apples every day. Not just to keep the doctor away, but because apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that contributes to a feeling of fullness and digests slowly. One study found that 5 grams of pectin was enough to leave people feeling satisfied for up to four hours.
3. Make a yogurt mix every Wednesday for breakfast. Take one small container of yogurt and mix in 1/3 cup All-Bran cereal, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, and 5 large, diced strawberries for a whopping 12.2 grams of fiber—nearly half your daily allowance!
4. Eat baby carrots and broccoli florets dipped into low-fat ranch dressing as your afternoon snack three days a week. You’ll fill up the empty space in your tummy while getting about 5 grams of fiber in each cup of veggies.
5. Keep a container of gorp in your car and office for the munchies. Mix together peanuts, raisins, a high-fiber cereal, and some chocolate-covered soy nuts. Allow yourself one handful for a sweet, yet high-fiber, snack.
Next: What to add to your salads