Carbohydrates have found themselves on the hit list of many diets. One of the reasons is because there are scientific studies that back up the fact that a low-carbohydrate diet is an effective way to lose weight when compared to other diets in the first six months. But carbohydrates are not all bad for you. You’ve likely heard the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” thrown around and after learning what these are and how they influence your diet, you’ll understand that you don’t have to cut out carbohydrates if you don’t want to.
What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrients – major nutrients – that your body needs to keep you alive. It is also the preferred source of energy for your body because it’s broken down into glucose. Glucose is what your body uses for fuel on a day to day basis. Glucose is also the only form of energy that your brain uses, which makes it super important. Your body can transform the by-products of the digestion of other macronutrients into glucose, but it loves being efficient and carbohydrates are definitely an efficient to get this by-product.
What are “Good” Carbs?
The term good carbs is usually used to refer to whole grain and complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts. These carbohydrates have been minimally processed, if at all, so that they take much longer for your body to digest. They get the word “good” put in front of them because:
They take longer to digest, which keeping you fuller longer
They don’t have a drastic effect on your blood sugar, which means that your hunger feels more manageable when it finally shows up. They are high in fiber, which plays a role in the slow digesting nature of these types of carbohydrate and can help you reduce your cholesterol. They contain vitamins and minerals that you normally won’t get from their refined counterparts. For example Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta contain folate which is particularly important for prenatal health and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A.
What are “Bad” Carbs?
Bad carbs are those that have been refined from their original state. Let’s take white rice for instance. It is processed to remove the two top layers of from the original brown rice; this means:
It tastes less chewy and takes on the flavor of the sauce that it’s cooked with.
It takes a quarter of the time as brown rice to cook.
And it doesn’t go rancid as fast because of the the oils that are contained in brown rice have been removed due to refinement.
But this processing comes at a cost. Most processing takes away the fiber which means that you have to eat significantly more white rice than brown rice to feel the same amount of fullness, and you don’t get the cholesterol-reducing benefits or digestive health benefits. Also, even though manufacturers try to fortify processed/refined grains by adding back some of the vitamins and minerals, you don’t get anything close to the original.
Now to your question about eating carbohydrates and flattening your tummy.
Why Would Cutting Down Carbs Seem Like a Good Diet Strategy?
If you take a close look at your diet, you’ll probably find that it’s dominated by carbohydrates. This is especially so for the typical Nigerian diet. Since weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than your body needs, cutting down your primary source of calories will lead to weight loss.
Also, most low-carb diets involve cutting down on not just the obvious carbs like bread and rice, but even fruits, some vegetables, beans, and nuts are off limits at least for the initial phase and this limits the options of what you can eat. Limited options usually involves you eating less.
What Can You do If You Want to Keep Your Carbs and Still Lose Weight and Flatten Your Tummy in the Process?
If you love your carbs and still want to lose weight, don’t despair. Making smarter choices about the carbs you include in your diet can make all the difference. Remember successful dieting requires that you eat fewer calories than your body needs, and eating carbohydrates while still doing that is possible if you focus on eating whole grains and complex carbohydrates as described above. Bottom line eating quality foods will help you feel satisfied, get your carbs, and help you lose weight as far as you’re eating the appropriate portions.
If you’re not a fan of the brown rice and the whole wheat products, oatmeal is a fantastic and versatile whole grain that is easily accessible and can be adapted as part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a great low-calorie swallow option and a fantastic swap for white flour in your pancake recipes – click here for an oatmeal pancake recipe. Regardless of whether you choose to eat your carbohydrates or let them go, portion control is key, so focus on that and you’ll be set for success.
Now that you have the answer to this question, do you plan to change your attitude towards carbohydrates in your diet and how do you intend on doing so?