When we think about eating healthy, we often think that ‘carbs’ is a dirty word and try to avoid them. But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. To gain a deeper knowledge of carbs, we need to know what carb foods are and how they affect our body and health.
Let’s start at the beginning: carb foods are any food that become sugar after they are digested. Carbohydrates are one of three macro-nutrients required by our body and along with protein and fat, carbs provide the calories in our diet. If you have ever thought about cutting out carbs completely from your diet to lose weight, you have been doing it all wrong. In fact, you might even be gaining weight.
Types of carbs:
There are two varieties of carbohydrates in the form of food—one is a simple carb, the other is a complex carb. Put simply, not all carbs are equal.
Simple carbohydrates are foods that are made up of a shorter chain of sugar, so they are digested more quickly and get absorbed into our bloodstream right away. Simple carbs make you hungry more often so you consume more food which leads to weight gain. These are mainly low-quality carbs and have few nutrients in them.
On the other hand, complex or ‘smart’ carbs, are made of long chains of sugar which take more time to digest and usually provide us energy for the entire day. They are packed with dense nutrients and high-quality fiber which speeds up your metabolism, burns fat, and helps you to lose weight.
Should carbs be excluded?
The answer is already a big NO. As one of the three vital nutrients the body requires, they should never be cut from your diet. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, so excluding them from your diet completely will force your body to source energy from stored fat, weakening your body in the long term and making you more vulnerable to diseases.
It’s not about excluding carbs, but choosing the right ones. If your motive is to lose weight, cut out the proportion of simple carbs and switch to an entire healthy carb diet.
Complex carbs are generally found in foods such as sweet potato, bananas, beans, and whole grains—foods which provide us with lots of fiber and carbs that control our hunger and stop us from overeating.
Conversely, if you want to stay away from unhealthy carbs, avoid artificial sweeteners, processed and refined foods, fast food, and sodas. This might sound tough for a lot of people, but keep in mind that simply reducing their consumption may make you crave them even more.
Carbs in moderation and training your mind
At the day end of the day, we are all human beings and it’s natural to crave the likes of cookies, burgers, pasta, and soda. The best advice is to stock up on complex carbs, eat simple carbs in moderation, and let yourself enjoy a cheat day once or twice a month. If you do continue consuming simple carbs, it’s okay. Just be sure to exercise regularly to burn them off before they enter your bloodstream. In the long run, those ‘bad carbs’ can contribute to heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions.
One last thought: the mind is the most powerful part of your body. If you train it to consume carbs in moderation—or not consume them at all—it will respond in kind.