It’s a common idea that if you’re going to lose weight you’re going to need to cut carbs out of your diet. We’ve been trained to think that carbohydrates are evil and have no place in a weight loss diet.
But carbs provide important fuel needed to keep the body energized and moving. And if you choose the right carbs, you can help yourself succeed in meeting your weight loss goals.
Carbohydrates or carbs are found in many natural and processed foods. The most common types of carbs are sugars, fibers, and starches. When you break them down, every carb is made up of chains of sugar molecules.
When we eat carbs, our digestive system tries to break them down into basic sugar molecules. Most digestible carbs are changed into glucose or blood sugar which is the universal energy source for the body.
Fiber, which is also a carb, cannot be broken into sugar molecules. Fiber works in the digestive system by helping trap and carry fats out of the body. Fiber also helps keep hunger down by regulating sugar in the blood, and helps move foods through the intestines which helps prevent constipation.
The idea that carbs are bad for weight control hinges on the fact that some carbs turn to blood sugar very quickly. “Simple” carbs or “bad” carbs are those that have been processed until their fiber and many nutrients are gone.
Eating these foods can lead to a quick spike in blood sugar followed by a crash that triggers your body to release more sugar from storage. This can leave you feeling hungry with cravings for more carbs. Simple carbs include processed foods such as white flour, white rice, and sugary foods.
In contrast to simple carbs, complex carbs or “good” carbs retain their fiber and nutrients. These carbs can help you feel fuller while eating less, provide good energy for your body, and help reduce cravings because they don’t cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar.
Complex carbs are good sources of nutrients and provide the long-lasting energy your body needs. Examples of complex carbs include whole-grain cereals including breads and pastas, beans, and brown rice.
Try these tips to get more good carbs into your diet: