Can carbohydrate loving folks who feel that life isn't complete without potatoes, bananas or beans lose weight?
Some say "no way" but Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth say "way."
Kunes, editor at Health magazine, and Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian, cowrote the magazine's first weight-loss cookbook, "The Carb Lovers Diet: Eat What You Love, Get Slim for Life."
If you're hoping that sugars and other refined carbs can return to your food plan, banish that thought. According to the authors, high-fiber carbs are the good guys but it's resistant starch, an almost-magical carb, that's the key to their diet.
Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that "resists" (go figure) digestion. The natural sugars in foods rich in resistant starch get processed slowly and keep blood sugar levels from rising quickly. Combine resistant starch with high fiber foods and keep hunger and unwise refrigerator raids at bay.
Foods with higher levels of resistant starch include green (unripe) bananas, uncooked oatmeal, cooked and canned beans, and cooked and cooled potatoes. Those with much lower resistant starch content include ripe bananas, cooked oatmeal, Italian bread, whole grain bread, corn chips, and crisp crackers.
For every meal, the authors link a resistant starch food (with a goal of 10 to 15 grams resistant starch per day), with a lean protein, a fruit or vegetable and a metabolism booster (like cayenne pepper or anchovy paste).
All of the book's 70-plus recipes contain resistant starch ingredients and the nutrition analysis of each recipe notes per-serving resistant starch grams. The recipes can be prepared in 20 minutes or less, don't use specialty ingredients and should fit into the budget of most cost-conscious shoppers.
"CarbLover's" loves monounsaturated fats and the recipes steer readers toward good sources of that fat, including avocados, nuts and olive oil.
CarbLovers count calories too, and aim for 1,200 a day on the "7-day Kick-Start" diet and then raise that to 1,600 a day for the "21-Day Carb Immersion Plan."
From the start you'll be prodded to exercise regularly (just 30 minutes) at home: no expensive gym plan or trainers here.
Woven through the book are motivational stories with before-and-after pictures of overweight folks that lost weight using this weight-loss food plan. Some of the stories make interesting reading.
The authors took the time to develop good-looking (there's loads of pictures), great tasting recipes, like Coconut French Toast with Raspberry Syrup and Skillet Salmon & Parmesan Potatoes, that make you think "this can't be a diet."
Kunes and Largeman-Roth may just be on to something here.
Try this recipe: Want to sample what a meal would be like on the CarbLovers food plan? This salad holds more than 4 grams of resistant starch.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write him at email@example.com.