You might have heard before from numerous so-called experts how all carbs are bad and should be avoided if you want to lose weight.
However the truth is that carbs are not bad, although certain ones are best avoided.
Why are carbs important?
Simply put, without eating carbs your energy levels will suffer.
Not only will the energy found in carbohydrates help with exercise and your daily activities, but also is used by your brain for a varieties of uses too.
What types of carbs are best avoided?
The carbs you should be avoiding if you want to lose weight and maintain good health are those that have been highly processed.
These carbs have been stripped of their nutrients and consuming them can leave you feeling sluggish.
Processed carbohydrates are also quickly broken down and burnt by your body, which will give you an initial burst of energy as your blood sugar levels spike.
However as they are burnt quickly your blood sugar levels will crash, resulting in cravings for more processed carbs.
Examples of bad carbs include:
- Refined grains such as white bread, white rice and white pasta
- Processed food like cake, sweets and crisps
- White potatoes
- Sugary soft drinks
If you are looking to lose weight then it is best to try and avoid eating the above foods, or at least try to reduce the amount of these carbs you consume.
Which carbs can help you lose weight?
When choosing carbs for weight loss it is best to look for those made using whole grains.
In a study of 27,000 people carried out by Harvard University over an 8 year period, they discovered that those who ate whole grains daily weighed an average of 2.5 pounds less than those who ate refined grain foods.
The key word here is ‘whole’ as this essentially means that these types of carbs are full of nutrients that can provide you with the energy your body requires, but without the calories and fat of processed carbs.
Examples of whole grain carbs include:
#1: Brown Rice
A healthier alternative to white rice is brown, as it is naturally lower in salt, while being high in essential minerals and fibre, which can help fill you up and keep you feeling full.
Porridge is a high fibre cereal perfect to start the day with.
It can help to lower the risk of:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
Muesli is made up of rolled oats, dried fruit and nuts so is full of fibre and protein, making it ideal for a healthy breakfast.
Barley can help to boost energy levels, cut hunger cravings and can help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Millet is an Asian grain rich in iron, B vitamins and calcium. It is ideal for those looking to go gluten free.
Bulgar is found usually in Middle Eastern dishes, and has a nutty flavour.
It is low in fat, but is full of fibre and minerals required for good heath.
This is a good source of magnesium, selenium and thiamine. You can use this whole grain to make a variety of dishes including corn muffins and corn bread.
While it is probably best to avoid those pre-made granola bars you will find at your local supermarket, as they are undoubtedly full of added sugar, it is possible to make your own.
There will be a variety of recipes available online that will enable you to make your own bars that contain zero sugar but plenty of healthy fats, protein and energy boosting carbs.
Teff is found in Africa, and it is a gluten-free grain high in iron.
While low-carb diets such as the Atkins and South Beach are still popular amongst dieters, the truth is that you do not have to resort to cutting entire food groups from your diet to lose weight.
For weight loss success you simply need to choose to eat healthier alternatives, you can still enjoy your favourite foods, as most have whole-grain alternatives.