The Carbs That Count

The fact that fiber is not converted to blood sugar makes for an interesting benefit for people doing Atkins, allowing you to sneak in a few extra carbs in the form of high-fiber foods. Let me explain what I mean by "sneaking," because it is most definitely not the same thing as cheating.

Let's compare a cookie made of white flour and sugar with a couple of fiber-rich crackers. Both contain 10 grams of carbs. But there the similarity ends. Eat the cookie and you'll send all 10 grams of carbs coursing into your blood stream. But when you chomp into the crackers (which have, say, 4 grams of fiber) only 6 of those 10 grams impact on your blood sugar. Basically, you can deduct the grams of fiber from the food's total carb count. I call the net number of grams, "The carbs that count when you do Atkins." In the case of those crackers, you got a 4-gram free ride.

Consider the possibilities! By merely choosing fiber-rich foods over their flab-inducing, refined counterparts, you can benefit your health and get more bang for your carbohydrate buck. And determining which carbs count is simple: Check the total fiber grams listed on the food label and subtract that number from the total grams of carbohydrate listed. (For more on how to read a food label, turn to Chapter 19)

To know how many grams of carbohydrate a portion of a certain food contains, you will likely need a carbohydrate gram counter. And so one has been provided for you in this book. An even more extensive version, continually updated, is available on our website at www.atkinscentercom.

In a moment I'm going to show you how to choose foods that supply the maximum nutritional bang, while they cost you only the very smallest metabolic price. When you combine your own personal preferences with the information in this chapter, you will be ideally situated not only to start doing Atkins (as you will learn in detail in Part Two) but also to continue doing Atkins for life.

But first, two points:

1. A controlled carbohydrate way of eating provides you with a powerhouse of nutrients to support your newly stabilized blood-sugar levels and your freshly unburdened body (yup, the one that soon won't be carrying so much weight around!). For many years, misinformed individuals have been claiming that you just couldn't get enough nutrients doing Atkins. After they've read this chapter, I'm going to let them puzzle out how they could possibly have said that.

2. As it relates to foods containing carbohydrates, you will need to make certain tradeoffs as you do Atkins. Once you've read this chapter, you'll have a much better understanding, both logically and intuitively, of how I came up with the lists of acceptable and unacceptable foods that you will find in Chapter 11 and the food decisions I'll be asking you to make. You'll know, for example, why a green salad is a good choice during the Induction phase and a carrot isn't.

So, let's take a quick look at the science of food.

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