Carbs and Weight Loss
Expert’s Name: Lisa Enslow
Just mention the word carbohydrates to a lifelong dieter and you can see her start to sweat. There has been so much controversy in recent years over whether carbs are the heroes or the villains of the diet world. Both are true, actually, and the key is that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Knowing the difference between carbs that enhance your health and weight loss and those that will detract from your health and encourage weight gain is crucial!
Carbs: Can’t Live Without Them
Carbohydrates are one of the three life sustaining food groups that we eat: the other two are fats and protein. Carbohydrates are by far the biggest group of food consumed, and provide the energy (in the form of sugar) that our bodies and brains need to function and thrive. A diet that is carbohydrate starved is not a sustainable long-term plan. Ask anyone who has been on the Atkins Diet or a similar low carb diet and you will learn that the diet and the weight loss did not last long. Find a way to eat that is rational and easy to follow through all of life’s adventures; it is the only way to ensure life long health at an appropriate weight for you.
Carbs are Sugar, But There’s More!
When your body digests a carbohydrate, it turns it into sugar. The form of carbohydrate determines how quickly the sugar enters your bloodstream. A spoonful of table sugar will hit your bloodstream immediately, as it is refined and unaccompanied by any other nutrients like fiber, fat, protein or vitamins and minerals. An apple contains fructose, the sugar in fruit, and also fiber and phytonutrients. The sugar from the apple will NOT hit your bloodstream so quickly, as your body needs to break down the apple and the fiber will slow down the release of sugar to your bloodstream.
A similar example can be made of rice. When you compare the calories, carbs and protein in brown rice and white rice, they are very similar. However, the impact on your body’s blood sugar is very different. Brown rice includes the branlayer, the germ and the starchy center of the grain of rice. White rice is ONLY the starchy center. White rice is missing the fiber, vitamins and minerals that are stripped away in the processing. These ingredients help slow down the process of the sugar hitting your bloodstream, and they are also vital nutrients that are important to your health! The same comparison can be made between white bread and whole grain bread.
The speed at which the sugar in carbohydrates hits your bloodstream is the key to how your body responds. Too much sugar, too fast, will be stored as fat. Additionally you will suffer from the sugar roller-coaster effect of craving more sugar soon to give you more energy once your body has stored away the fast acting sugars. Eating carbs that deliver the sugar in a more controlled, slow way helps you enjoy a more even supply of energy that doesn’t leave you with a craving for more in a couple of hours!
What Carbs Should You Eat?
Focus on whole food in the most natural state. Whole fruits and vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of carbohydrates. The less refined the better! When you eat food in it’s natural state you are getting all of the nutrients and ingredients that your body needs. Stay away from the refined carbohydrates like most baked goods or white breads, sugar, soft drinks, fruit juices, candy. They are the carbs that will only help you gain weight and be hungry for more in an hour!
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