Q: I've been following a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, and each time I try to quit it, I regain several pounds within just a few days off the diet, so I'm afraid to get off it. What should I do?
A: That rapid weight gain within the first few days after a low-carbohydrate diet is simply water. When carbohydrates in the diet are very limited, our bodies' ability to maintain normal water balance in the body is disrupted and we often tend to become somewhat dehydrated. As soon as normal carbohydrate consumption occurs, that water is restored.
Be patient while your body takes a few weeks to get its water balance back to normal.
Q: What are some healthy snacks for people who don't have refrigerators available during the day but don't want to be stuck with only the snack choices available in vending machines?
A: Since most of us have trouble meeting the goal of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, adding a fruit snack would be a great choice. You can pack a piece of fresh fruit or container of grapes or cut up fruit each day. Some fruits, like oranges and bananas, can be kept in your desk or locker for several days. Raisins and other dried fruits can be kept for extended periods; just pay attention as you eat, since they are concentrated enough in calories that mindless munching throughout a large bag could add more calories than you really need. While nuts are somewhat high in calories and fat, the fat is a healthy kind of fat, and snacking on a handful or so can provide fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Other possibilities include cereals or low-fat whole-grain crackers.
Q: If I'm going to use ground beef, does it really matter which kind I buy?
A: Yes. A deck-of-cards-size patty of regular ground beef contains 18 grams of fat, while meat labeled 15 percent fat contains only 12 grams, and a 10 percent fat meat contains just 9 grams of fat. The two extremes also differ by almost 100 calories. Because stores do not have a uniform system for designating meat "lean" and "extra lean," the most accurate information on the fat content of these products is found on actual listing of percent fat. This does not refer to the percent of calories in the meat that is fat, but to the weight of its fat. The best choice will generally be ground meat that is at least 90 percent lean (no more than 10 percent fat).
- By Karen Collins, a registered dietitian for the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Send your questions to "Nutrition-Wise," c/o Town Crier, 1759 R Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009.