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Hidden Carbs May Hinder Weight-Loss Efforts

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Hidden Carbs May Hinder Weight-Loss Efforts

( of Americans have made carb counting a central tenet of their weight-loss efforts but hidden carbs in over-the-counter medications risk undermining the weight-loss efforts of even the most-fervent carb-counters.

"Because nutrition facts are not listed on labels of over-the-counter medications, people aren't aware that some contain carbs," says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., a nationally renowned nutrition expert and author of Fight Fat After Forty. "Fortunately, there are low-carb options available for many over-the-counter remedies."

Because many high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and grains, are limited on low-carb diets, more than one-third of low-carb dieters and nearly half of consumers on the Atkins and South Beach diets report a change in regularity. Many over-the-counter medicines aimed at restoring regularity, however, contain enough carbohydrates to derail even the most dedicated low-carb dieter.

While some of the lowest-carb options come in caplet form, even those are not equal. Metamucil® capsules contain three carb grams per dose. If taken up to three times daily as directed, this can amount to nearly half the daily carb intake of 20 grams allowed during the Atkins induction phase. A better choice is Citrucel® caplets, which contain zero carbs per dose. Citrucel caplets also help low-carb dieters stay regular without excess gas or bloating that can make them feel fat.

Milk, yogurt and other sources of calcium are also restricted on low-carb diets, so many doctors recommend low-carb dieters supplement their calcium intake. The leading brand of soft calcium chews, however, contains four carb grams per chew.

Good low-carb alternatives include TUMS® Regular, which provides 200 mg of calcium with less than one gram per tablet, or Os-Cal® Ultra, with 600 mg of calcium and zero carb grams per tablet.

Other dietary changes that can occur on low-carb diets, especially liberal consumption of high-fat foods, may cause heartburn and indigestion. But seeking relief with some leading antacids can deliver unwanted carbs.

To put out the fire without adding carbs, dieters can opt for Gaviscon® Regular or Extra Strength Liquids, which contain zero carb grams per dose. TUMS Regular and Sugar Free are also good choices-both at less than 1 carb gram per tablet.

"Even if you're not following a low-carb diet, it's a good idea to know what's in the medications your family is taking," says Dr. Peeke.

© Health News 2004 All Rights Reserved.


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