Bread. Pasta. Rice. If you’re trying to lose weight, then you probably think these foods are your greatest enemies, aside from ice cream and chocolate cake of course. Carbs have gained a poor reputation over the years, and many people think that these foods are off limits when trying to lose weight. There are a lot of holes in this theory, unfortunately, and it leads people to be misinformed. If you don’t get enough carbs, you’ll be left feeling sluggish, irritable and unable to focus, things that won’t help your diet.
So, why the confusion about carbs in the first place?
Carbohydrates: Refined vs. Nutrient Rich
Carbohydrates are not created equal. Refined carbs are the ones that are bad for the body, and they are found in foods like white bread, white pasta, cookies, cakes and sugar. Refined carbs have no nutritional value, and they are broken down by the body very quickly, which results in that temporary burst of energy you feel when eating sweets. But, it doesn’t take long for this feeling to go away, and then you’re left feeling sluggish and tired.
Also, since the body breaks down refined carbs quickly, you’ll be hungry in no time. You can see why these types of carbs can be detrimental to a healthy eating regimen.
Refined carbohydrates are not the only types of carbs that exist. Nutrient-rich or complex carbs are chock full of nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. They are absorbed by the body much slower, which is why nutrient-rich carbs leave you feeling fuller. And, complex carbs don’t cause an immediate spike in blood sugar like their refined counterparts. Vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grain products are the best examples of healthy carbs that should be included in your diet.
Now, it’s true that nutrient-rich carbs may offer vitamins and minerals, but can you actually lose weight by eating them? Yes!
Losing Weight with Complex Carbs: Is it Possible?
When it comes to losing weight, what really matters is calories. No matter where the calories come from, if you eat more than you burn off, you will gain weight. That’s why diet regimens that focus on caloric intake are the most successful over the long term. Complex carbs happen to be filling, so when you make good choices, you’ll feel fuller and snack less on other things. This in itself can help you shed a few pounds.
What gets tricky is that carbohydrates contain a lot of calories, and it’s easy to overeat on these types of foods. Be sure to stick to the right portion sizes – which is about the size of a tennis ball – and fill the rest of your plate with other low calorie, nutrient-rich foods like green leafy vegetables and lean meat or poultry.
Another way that nutrient-rich carbs can help with weight loss is that they act as fuel for the body. If you withhold carbohydrates, your body will crave them as a way of telling you that it needs more energy. People who refrain from eating essential foods tend to feel deprived and are more likely to binge. Denying yourself this food group is not a long-term weight loss plan, and it’s bound to wreak havoc on the body. Instead of cutting out good carbs, pay attention to portion size for complex carbs and you’ll feel better quickly.
Finally, complex carbohydrates fight disease. People who eat three servings of whole grain products are 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, healthy carbs are the best way to keep your blood sugar in check and avoid the risk of obesity or diabetes. And, since nutrient-rich carbs are packed with phytochemicals, they help the body naturally fight disease such as metabolic problems, digestive problems, heart disease and certain cancers.
For those who warn you that carbs are the enemy, think again. Refined carbs found in sweets and white rice and pasta should be avoided, as they don’t do much good for the body. But, nutrient-rich carbs are part of a nutritious, wholesome diet that maintains weight, fuels the body and fights disease. So yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just be sure to choose that cake wisely.