One of the more popular dieting strategies in recent years has been to totally eliminate carbs from your diet. People look at carbs as the enemy and feel like removing – or at least greatly reducing – them from their diet will cause the pounds to melt right off. However, the human body needs carbs to thrive. Instead of cutting carbs completely, it’s important that you’re consuming them properly.
Carbs Aren’t All Bad
The idea that carbs are bad is a myth that weight loss companies use to lead customers astray. The idea is perhaps rooted in truth – high levels of carbs can contribute to weight gain – but the same could be said for ospijust about any other type of food. If you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. That’s just science.
If you ask doctors and medical professionals, who understand the human body, what nutrients it needs, you’ll realize that carbs are a necessary component of a balanced diet.
As Mercy Hospital and Medical Center explains, "Most people should get between 40% and 60% of total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates (starches) and natural sugars. Complex carbohydrates provide calories, vitamins, minerals, and fiber."
So, as you can see, carbs aren’t the enemy. But what value do they provide? Let’s briefly review some of the top benefits.
1. Better Brain Functioning
Looking to give your brain a boost? Carbohydrates have been shown to actually enhance the functioning of the brain. This is because your brain runs on glucose and your body gets glucose from carbs. If you don’t consume enough carbs, you’ll find it more difficult to concentrate and process information. That’s why a healthy breakfast is always recommended before a big day of work or school.
2. Proper Hydration
Proper hydration is one of the keys to being healthy. When you’re hydrated, your body feels fuller and your organs are able to fire on all cylinders. But did you know that the consumption of carbohydrates and sodium actually lead to increased water absorption in the intestinal wall? And because carbs are hydrophilic (meaning they love water), a lack of carbs can detrimentally affect your body’s muscles and tissue.
3. Insulin Production
When your body consumes carbs, your pancreas actually secretes insulin. And while insulin sometimes gets a bad rap, it actually plays a major role in transporting nutrients – namely protein – to the muscles. So, if you’re looking to increase your lean mass, more carbs mean more insulin, and more insulin means more muscle.
4. Curbs Hunger
Did you know that carbs actually keep you satisfied longer and reduce hunger cravings? This has to do with the resistant starch contained in carbs. They release fullness hormones in the intestine and make your cells more sensitive to insulin. As Health.com explains, "by increasing your consumption of filling foods and releasing satiety hormones, you'll minimize your hunger and cravings."
5. Speeds Up Metabolism
As mentioned, carbs are high in resistant starch. These starches move through your digestive system and release fatty acids that actually encourage fat burning – specifically in the belly. These fatty acids also enhance muscle mass. The result is healthier weight, less bulge in the belly, and a healthier overall diet.
Developing a Healthy Balance
The key to any healthy diet is balance. You need to avoid overindulging in one food group and consume a variety of nutrients across the board. And when weight loss and improved health are the goals, remember that exercise and physical activity are just as much a part of the process as a healthy diet.
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