Carbohydrates

Several diet plans promoted online are carb-free or very low in carbohydrates. One is supposed to consider this a beneficial way to eat; a method of weight loss which doesn’t stop a person from consuming delicious calories from meat and fish or enjoying a summer barbeque.

The truth is your body uses carbs for energy. If it does not obtain enough energy to operate, it will take energy from muscle and continue to lay down fat.

Moreover, certain carbohydrate-rich foods also contain essential minerals and vitamins. You can’t completely cut out carbs and continue to lead a healthy life, but “carbs” has become a byword from “junk” and so it is important to distinguish between good and bad carbohydrates.

Bad Carbs

When dieters talk about carbs in derogatory terms, they are really speaking of refined foods such as bread, cake, muffins, and pretzels. Essentially, they are referring to foods which have been baked or fried; junk foods; fast food; and the sort of stuff that could last on a grocery store shelf for months. Candy is also included on this list because sugar in any form is a carbohydrate.

Refined or simple carbohydrates have been reduced to their simplest form; ground down so none of the grain remains intact. They no longer contain very much nutrition. The body sees this as energy which must be used right away, but if there is no cause to use the energy immediately, this substance is instantly stored as fat. Bodies which consume too many refined carbohydrates often suffer from insulin resistance and eventually develop Type 2 Diabetes.

Complex Carbohydrates

There are levels of carb complexity and oats are a great example. Oat flour qualifies as a simple carb. Oats you eat raw but which are cooked just by adding hot water from a kettle are only one step above simple carbohydrates, but rolled oats are better and steel cut oats are the best because they require some serious cooking.

In other words, they are complete and the body will need time to process them. Energy is released slowly and used over a long period of time. By the time they reach your GI tract, these foods have been fully absorbed and their high fiber content allows the body to get rid of them easily too.

This goes for many complex carbohydrates: whole grains, for example. Fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates which can be eaten raw. When you eat them raw, they are more filling and tend to retain more of their nutritional value, although some such foods must be cooked.

Dieting Difference

When dieters weigh up healthy sources of carbs, they usually split vegetables and fruits into two groups. Fruits containing mostly water or very little sugar are better than high-sugar or starchy fruits. Vegetables you must cook (root veggies, usually) are too carb-rich compared with leafy green vegetables like Romaine lettuce and spinach.

When your goal is weight loss, it makes sense to cut back on sugar, even natural sugar, and to fill up on water-packed foods. The main thing is to consume enough fiber and nutrition from one’s diet.

Later, as one’s weight normalizes, carb-rich foods can return but they shouldn’t be joined by refined carbs on a regular basis. They set blood sugar on a roller coaster ride and also contribute to renewed weight gain, even the fat-free ones like hard candy.

Carbohydrates
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Todd Stohrdahl

Todd Stohrdahl keeps a close eye on fitness topics and will never turn down an opportunity to play competitive sports. He's a fierce competitor and brings his "hustle and muscle" mentality to our editorial team.