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Should We Be Carbophobic?

It's no secret that we are always looking for a quick fix when it comes to losing weight.

First, low-fat diets were the rage, now carbohydrates are public enemy #1 as millions of Americans turn to low-carb lifestyles. But, is a low-carb diet the healthiest way to eat and lose weight?

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America's non-profit fitness advocate, recommends a solid balance between eating individual-sized portions of a wide variety of foods and regular exercise to achieve optimal health benefits, including weight loss.

America is missing the point. The foundation of a healthy diet should be based upon eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Moderate amounts of low-fat protein sources and diary products should be consumed as the next tier of a healthy diet. Finally, sweets, refined grains and fats should be consumed sparingly.

"Individuals need to understand that healthy carbs such as vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains (eaten in proper amounts) are essential components of a well-balanced diet," said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.

"The consumption of these healthy carbs has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and a number of other chronic ailments."

ACE offers user-friendly tips on how to eat sensible portions while working your way toward your weight loss goal.

  • Use your hand -- One fist equals a medium-size piece of fruit and your palm, minus fingers, equals three ounces of meat, fish or poultry.
  • Thumb as your guide -- The length of your thumb equals one ounce of meat or cheese and the tip of your thumb measures one tablespoon.
In addition to eating sensibly, begin a fitness program with exercises you find comfortable and build as your body becomes accustomed to the activity level. Don't start out too hard or too fast. Chances are you may injure yourself or quit before you've done yourself much good.

And remember, you can't lose weight overnight.

Set a realistic weight-loss goal for yourself -- one to two pounds a week -- eat healthy and get going on a program of regular physical activity ... you will be surprised by what you accomplish.

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