The poor old carbohydrate has gotten a bad rap. Over recent years, low carb diets have been touted as the solution to rapid weight loss. Believing that curbing the carbs will force the body to draw on their fat stores for energy, millions of people have extremely restricted their total bad carbs intake while actually eating more fatty foods. For most of them, the fat stays where it is while their body starts eating into their muscle stores for that essential energy.*
It’s about time that the carbohydrate started getting the respect it deserves. Maybe then people will begin to be able to eat their carbs in a manner that promotes leanness and health.
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source. The body can also use protein and fat for fuel but these macronutrients are far less efficient at providing the body with the energy it needs. All the carbs that you eat end up in your blood as glucose or blood sugar. Yet not all carbs are equal.
Simple vs Complex Carbs
The two broad categories of carbs are simple and complex. Simple carbs are made up of either a single sugar molecule or two sugar molecules linked together. They provide very little in the way of vitamin or mineral content. They are easily digested by the body and provide an immediate energy boost. This leads to an increase in the release of insulin in the pancreas.
The insulin does the job of clearing the glucose from the bloodstream with the result that weak, low in energy and hungry. This leads to a repeat cycle of binging on more simple carbs and the whole process starts over. Simple bad carbs are not your friend.
Complex carbs are made up of many molecules and are known as polysaccharides. The majority of them consist of fiber. In contrast with simple carbs, they provide a consistent, slow release of energy into the bloodstream. Complex carbs are nutritionally dense, being packed with vitamins and minerals. Complex carbs include starchy and fibrous vegetables as well as grains.
Fiber is essential to efficient bodily function as it provides bulk for the intestinal contents, aids in digestion and the elimination of waste and helps ward of digestive tract disease and colon cancer. In addition, fiber can help you to lose body fat. Because they are so low in calories, you can eat a lot of them without impacting on your calorie count.
The smart person, then, will use fibrous carbs to add bulk to their meals so that they aren’t eating too many calorie dense starchy carbs and proteins. Eating a starchy carb AND a fibrous carb at each meal will provide an ideal macronutrient mix.
Rather than staying away from carbs altogether, the person who is interested in a balanced, sensible fat loss nutritional program will focus on eating natural, unprocessed carbs. She will reduce refined, processed carbs as much as possible. White sugar and white flour products should be on the ‘no go’ list.
- High in nutrients
- Contains low to moderate calories
- High in fiber which helps lower bad cholesterol, insulin levels, and blood sugar. Foods that are rich in fiber also helps you avoid constipation and lose weight easily.
- Low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
- No trans fat
- High in calories
- High in refined sugars
- High in refined grains like flour.
- High in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fats
- High in sodium
- Low in fiber and other essential nutrients.
Carbs to Concentrate On?
The ideal intake of carbohydrates depends on various factors including age, gender, weight, physical activity, metabolic health, culture and personal preferences.
However here some of the foods that contain good carbs:
- All kinds of vegetables and whole fruits.
- Legumes like peas, kidney beans, lentils
- Nuts like macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts
- Pumpkin and chia seeds.
- Tubers like sweet potatoes, potatoes
- Whole grains including brown rice, quinoa, and pure oats.
Here is a list of foods that you should avoid because they contain Bad Carbs:
- Carbonated drinks
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks because they also contain sugar.
- White bread
- Baked products like cookies, pastries, and cakes.
- Ice cream
- Potato chips, French fries, hamburger.
- Chocolates and candies
Bottom Line on Carbs
Aim for 50% of your total daily caloric intake from natural carbohydrates. 25 to 35 grams of these carbs should be in the form of fiber. A man who is 200 pounds, then, should eat 1250 calories per day of carbohydrate, mixed between fibrous and starchy varieties. If he is eating six small meals over the course of the day, he will be ingesting approximately 208 carb calories per meal.
By following a sensible, balanced carb intake you will be able to benefit from the energy that the good carbs supply while avoiding the fat-inducing sugar rush that comes from the bad carbs.
Fitness Disclaimer: This website offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis treatment. This website does not promise any specific results, as each individual responds differently to training. The author of this article is not a medical professional.