Carbohydrates are one of the body’s primary sources of energy and are vital for good health for everything from everyday tasks to exercise. However, many people don’t understand carbohydrates and are cutting back or doing a low-carb diet. This can be dangerous to your health and can often sabotage weight loss efforts.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it is essential you know the difference between the different carbohydrates. There are good/complex/whole carbohydrates and bad/simple/refined carbohydrates.
So what exactly are carbs? “Carbohydrates are a key nutrient group (macronutrient) found in plant foods alongside proteins and fats. Carbs are found in a wide range of healthy and unhealthy food. They are your body’s premium fuel. They nourish your brain. They give you the energy to keep moving. Carbs power you through exercise by delaying the onset of fatigue,” says Dr. Shyamala Vishnumohan(opens in new tab), Doctor of Food and Nutrition Science (Ph.D.), Certified Prenatal Dietitian, and Real Food Advocate
Not all carbs are equal. Some give you energy, while others make you tired. Some help shed weight and others make you bloated.
These carbohydrates are foods are unprocessed and still in their ‘natural’ state – or very close to their natural state. They still contain their nutrition and are high in fiber and starch, which take longer to digest and contain important vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, and antioxidants. They also help regulate appetite and blood sugar, keeping you feeling full for longer.
These carbohydrates fuel your brain, give you energy, aids in digestion, helps you sleep better, prevents weight gain and burns more fat. Consuming these carbohydrates also help prevent cancer and lowers your risk of disease including heart diseases.
Food choices include fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
These carbohydrates are often highly processed with low nutritional content. These carbohydrates are known to make our blood sugar spike quickly, which then leaves us with a “crash” and more food cravings.
These carbohydrates can leave you feeling fatigued, irritable, constipated, and are even known to cause nutrient deficiencies. They also are linked to diabetes, obesity and other health conditions.
Foods include white breads, white sugars, white pastas, snack foods, candies, french fries, donuts, juices, and soft drinks, just to name a few.
If you haven’t already noticed, food manufacturers and marketing companies are working hard to target those watching their carb intake and display “Low-Carb” or “Zero-Carb” on their packaging. In processing, the bran and germ of the whole grain are removed, which also removes fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants leaving them with little nutritional value. Sugar, sodium, and preservatives are then often added to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life. As always, check the ingredients for fillers, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers, and other unhealthful additives that sabotage our health and weight loss efforts.
Be bad/simple carb-free for life!
Many who go on low-carb diets, and then go off their low-carb diet usually gain the weight right back. Our bodies will go into shock if we go without (bad) carbohydrates for a period of time and then reintroduce them. When our bodies are shocked, it almost always results in gains. It’s best to remove all processed foods and stick to healthier choices for life to maintain your weight and a healthy lifestyle.
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