The reputation of carbs among dieters has gone from 100 to 0. Dieters around the world are jumping into the bandwagon of avoiding carbs in their diet, hoping to lose weight fast and efficiently. They rely on proteins and fats to lose weight. I have encountered my clients picking this route for weight loss. I always start with making them understand the difference in carbohydrates. Are carbs really a hindrance to weight loss?
Different Types of Carbs
There are different kinds of carbs that anyone must know, but I will narrow it down into two: complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are those that can be found in high-fiber foods like whole grains, vegetables, beans, peas, and fruits. The great thing about this type of carbs is that they provide the essential calories and nutrients needed to sustain healthy growth and well-being.
Simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, are also known as “empty calorie” foods. This is mainly found on sugary drinks, snack items, and other convenient edibles. These are the ones that should be avoided, or be taken in limited quantities, as they provide no nutritional value – only calories.
For easy understanding please remember, common simple carbs added to foods include:
- raw sugar
- brown sugar
- corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup
- glucose, fructose, and sucrose
- fruit juice concentrate
By knowing the type of carbohydrates, picking the right ones should be easy. Remember though that they all have the same caloric density, but are way different in their nutritional component. This means each gram of carbohydrates (of any type) provides 4 calories in every gram. The only thing different is their nutritional value.
The better carbs are the complex carbs.
Complex carbohydrates can be easily obtained from the nearest groceries and supermarkets. You just have to know which ones to choose.
Here are a few kinds that you can include in your diet:
1. Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based proteins such as quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and contain proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This is one carbohydrate choice if you want to lose weight since they are also high in fiber.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens contain a small number of carbs but are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A serving of a salad or stir-fried veggies, coupled with slices of lean meat, should be enough to enjoy a healthy meal.
Fruits are high in calories but are also great carbohydrate-rich food. Bananas are one of the most popular fruits of fitness enthusiasts due to their potassium content. Apples are well-known for being able to boost vitamin and mineral intake in just a few servings.
4. Root Vegetables
Root vegetables are rich in fiber as compared to pasta, white rice, and noodles. If you want to get more out of your carbohydrate intake, you can substitute root vegetables for your meal. Examples of these are sweet potatoes, yams, beets, etc.
Eating Simple Carbs
The American Heart Association has recommendations for the maximum sugars you can have. According to it, men should have only 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) of sugar in a day, while women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams). This is about 150 calories and 100 calories, respectively.
This should answer the debate of whether simple carbs have to be completely avoided. Health experts remain firm in their recommendation that people can take sugars, but only in moderate amounts.
What does a 100-calorie simple carb look like? It is about a 12-oz can of cola or a small bar of chocolate. Clearly no nutrients or vitamins, just empty calories.
If you are struggling to lose weight or maintaining a healthy weight, remember that carbohydrates are not the culprit. There have been many studies linking to disordered eating due to avoidance of carbohydrates.
The key here is moderation and balance. Make sure that you have the right amount of calories and nutrients in your body so you can achieve a healthy weight without any health complications.
Check out more of Kimi Verma’s columns on SEEMA, like Five Reasons Why You Don’t Lose Weight