The Genius, Freedom and Limits of the Consistent Carb Diet
The goal of the consistent carbohydrate diet (CCD) is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same times each day.
Although this diet regulates the intake of carbohydrates, it does not specify which carbohydrates to eat. A person can choose any carb type as long as they are consistent with the number of grams consumed.
The Diet and Its Perks
Depending on weight, height, age and activity level, an adult’s carbohydrate intake on the CCD is typically 180 to 200 grams per day, to be divided evenly (or close to it) over breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your daily intake is set at 180 grams, you might eat 60 grams of carbs at each meal. Some CCD plans do not include snacking.
The freedom of this diet is that you can eat anything as long as the prescribed daily carbohydrate distribution is maintained. The discipline of the CCD is needing to make wise food choices and keeping track of carb grams consumed.
The genius of the consistent carbohydrate diet is maintaining steady day-to-day glucose levels. This can be especially helpful in regulating insulin dosages for those with type 1 diabetes and insulin or oral medication amounts with type 2. For individuals managing by diet alone, CCD takes the guess-timation out of meal planning.
Some CCD experts recommend straight carbohydrate counting, but many others suggest keeping track of carbs using carbohydrate choices. A carbohydrate choice is a portion size of 15 grams of carbohydrate, so 60 grams equals four carbohydrate choices.
A typical meal includes three to five carbohydrate choices, depending on the person’s individualized diet plan. Someone allowed 200 grams of carbs each day would have 13 carbohydrate choices total and may eat four of them at breakfast, four at lunch and five at dinner.
Examples of one carbohydrate choice are a half cup of pasta, one slice of bread, one cup of milk, a half cup of cooked brown rice, and a half cup of oatmeal. A small piece of cake with frosting would likely be two carb choices. Foods containing no carbohydrates, or with fewer than 5 grams, are not counted.
Individualized CCD plans may include snacks, and one snack is typically one carb choice, such as three cups of plain popcorn or a cup of berries.
The CCD must be followed carefully, as prescribed, to be of use. Since the whole point of it is maintaining a continuous, even distribution of carbohydrates consumed, meals cannot be skipped, snacks cannot not be snuck, and food serving sizes must be adhered to.
Eating sweets is allowed because research indicates that the gram total of carbohydrates eaten in one meal is more significant than the type of carbohydrates eaten. This means people must exercise dietary wisdom and not use all their daily carb choices for cookies that are heavy with calories and light on nutrition.
Dieters are recommended to choose whole grains, vegetables and whole fruits as their main carbohydrate sources, and to balance out meals with lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Meals are best taken at the same times each day and at regular intervals of about four to five hours.
Some individuals, often those newly diagnosed with diabetes, begin on a strict CCD plan. When that person becomes more knowledgeable and experienced in managing their blood sugar, the plan can be relaxed to reflect this.
Source: Fletcher Allen Healthcare
Photo of spicy tuna roll by John Nyboer