Carbs or Calories?

Q. When dieting, which is better to use as a caloric intake model: carbs or calories? Does one offer faster weight loss over the other?

A. The best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories (from any source, be it protein, carb, fat or alcohol) and increase physical activity (aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week).

Keep in mind that safe weight loss ranges from one-half to two pounds per week. To determine your calorie needs, visit the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate Plan.

After you determine the right number of calories to meet your goals, try keeping a food log to see how your actual intake compares to your estimated needs.

Finally, keep in mind that it is possible to lose weight quickly with a low carb diet. However, many are not able to sustain this type of restrictive eating pattern for the long term. As a result, many often return to old habits and regain any lost weight.

So instead of cutting carbs, put carbs “in their place." In other words, pass up less healthy carbs such as regular soda, refined grains, French fries and sweet desserts for quality carbs such as fat free milk and yogurt, whole grains, legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils), whole fruits (instead of juice) and starchy veggies such as sweet potatoes. Remember: sweet potatoes fries are higher in fat and calories than a baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon!

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