Why Carrots Are Your Biggest Diet Mistake

carrots-673184_640Every week I have the good fortune of working with a fantastic group of women. During our group strength training sessions we often talk about nutrition. It’s a great combination. They build their muscles while learning tips and information on how to eat right to support their training and lose weight.

Sometimes nutrition information can get complicated. There’s a lot to learn. So, I try to simplify. One day, partly in jest, but also to make a point, I simply put on the board a giant drawing of a carrot. This, I told them is the nutrition message for the day… carrot.

I thought people might get a laugh. I figured the discussion would center around simplifying healthy eating, eating clean, focusing on fruits and vegetables… What I didn’t expect was that every group that came in to my class that day had at least one person ask me this or some version of it…

“Aren’t carrots awfully high in sugar? Shouldn’t we avoid them?”

I have to admit this response caught me off guard. It was clear that somewhere along the line the message had gotten lost. They were missing the forest for the trees. 

The reality is that if you’ve got weight to lose then carrots are not the problem. Carrots are a good thing, a friendly little vegetable with vitamins and nutrients and antioxidants. The carrot, and pretty much every other vegetable, are your friend.

Do carrots have more natural sugar and carbs than say broccoli or spinach? Yes. Yes they do. Does that mean they should be avoided? Of course not. Carrots are not the problem and worrying about whether you should be eating them is missing the bigger picture of what really needs attention in your diet… i.e. the actual problem. 

This recent Facebook post by Precision Nutrition said it well…

“The researchers found that 57.9 percent of people’s calorie intake, on average, came from ultra-processed foods.” **This is the elephant in the room.** Before worrying about carbs in carrots, or about whether X is Paleo, or trying to get more resistant starch from a boiled potato, it’s important to look at the big picture.

Here’s the article that post linked to: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-are-your-4-lbs 

Maybe focusing in on details like which vegetables are better than others is easier than attacking the real problems. Things like consuming too many or too few calories, giving up processed foods, added sugar and diet soda,  or having too many “cheats” are where the focus needs to be. When you get a handle on those kind of things then the sugar in carrots is not going to hurt your results. I promise.

The bottom line is this: Eat real food. Eat minimally processed food. Eat fresh (and frozen) fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins. If it comes in a box, a can or a bag… proceed with caution, read the label (not the one on the front, the one on the back with the small print) and 9 times out of 10 put it back on the shelf. Most importantly, step back and take an honest look at the bigger picture so you can see and focus on the things that will really make a difference in reaching your weight loss goals.

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