There is NOT a lot of counting on the Wheat Belly lifestyle, but keeping an eye on your carb intake is among the keys to success. This is especially true when you are just starting out, including starting out on your Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox when you need to reverse the metabolism/insulin/blood sugar/inflammation effects of years of wheat/grain consumption.
While we do not count calories or fat grams, we count carbs because 1) the majority of people begin this process with diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood sugars and insulin resistance that all have to be reversed to regain control over health and weight, and 2) many foods, especially processed foods, are filled with carbs. Counting net carbs will reverse or protect you from these two issues.
We follow this simple rule: Never exceed 15 grams net carbohydrates per meal or per 6-hour (digestive) period. We calculate net carbs by the following simple equation:
NET CARBS = TOTAL CARBS – FIBER
Sticking to this rule is important. Say you eat a ripe medium-sized (7-inch length) banana with 27 total carbs and 3 grams fiber:
27 – 4 = 24 grams net carbs
By exceeding your 15 gram net carb cutoff, this one banana will turn off your ability to lose weight for that entire day, as well as delay any hope of reversing high blood sugars and insulin resistance.
Here are four tips for managing carbs that can help unlock the key to rapid weight loss and amazing health:
- Limit Fruit. Choose fruit with the least carbohydrate content and greatest nutritional value. From best to worst, choose from: berries of all varieties, cherries, citrus, apples, nectarines, peaches, and melons. Minimize (ripe) bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and grapes, and when you eat them do so only in small quantities, since their sugar content is similar to that of candy. An exception to fruit guidelines are avocados, which are high in fats, rich in potassium, wonderfully filling, and low in net carbs (3 grams per avocado).
- Avoid Fruit Juices. As with fruit, be very careful with fruit juices. You’d do best to avoid juices altogether. If you must drink fruit juice (such as pomegranate or cranberry juice for health benefits), drink only real, 100% juice (not fruit “drinks” made with high-fructose corn syrup and little juice) and only in minimal quantities (no more than 2 to 4 ounces per meal), as the sugar content is too high.
- Limit Dairy Products. Have no more than 1 serving per day of milk, cottage cheese, or unsweetened yogurt (preferably full-fat, if you can find it). Remember: fat is not the problem. We limit dairy because of the lactose sugar content and the peculiar ability of the whey protein to provoke insulin that can impair weight loss and encourage insulin resistance, not to mention issues such as estrogen content, bovine growth hormone and antibiotic residues, and potential adverse effects of the casein protein (casein beta A1).
- Limit Legumes, Cooked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Yams. In general, don’t eat more than 1/4 cup of any of these foods per meal. Including some of these foods can be important, however, as they benefit bowel flora, especially chickpeas, hummus, lentils, and raw white potatoes.
Long-term, some people, especially those who have achieved ideal weight, ideal fasting blood sugars (<90 mg/dl) and HbA1c (<5.0%), and addressed all the additional strategies advocated in the Wheat Belly Total Health program (especially vitamin D and cultivation of bowel flora), can loosen their net carb restriction, e.g., 20 grams net. It means developing an individual tolerance level for net carb intake while still adhering to the NO CHANGE RULE in blood sugars.