When it comes to losing weight in a healthy way it’s important to understand the difference between good carbs vs bad carbs and which carbs are the best carbs for losing weight.
Extremely low carb and high fat keto diets are becoming very popular for losing weight perpetuating a fear around eating carbohydrates but the truth is, unprocessed plant-based carbohydrates have a low caloric density yet are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals which are extremely beneficial for losing weight in a healthy way.
But not all carbs are equal so let’s talk about bad carbs vs good carbs so that you can confidently know how to choose the good carbs for weight loss.
A simple way to determine the difference between a good carb vs a bad carb is to ask the question has this carbohydrate been processed in any way?
Another way to ask the same question is can you find this food in nature?
We find potatoes, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruit in nature. We don’t find cherries, pop, crackers, pasta, chips and table sugar in nature. The difference between these carbohydrates is the processing or extraction of a specific portion of the carbohydrate to make a refined carbohydrate which is never found in nature.
The processing of carbohydrates often removes the fiber, water, and many nutrients resulting in a refined carbohydrate that is nutrient deficient and rapidly absorbed by the body.
While all carbohydrates are essentially broken down into glucose for absorption, whole-food carbohydrates also contain a wide variety of micro-nutrients required for the utilization of glucose in the body and various functions.
A refined carbohydrate such as white flour derived from the whole grain of wheat or sugar derived from sugar cane is stripped of nutrients and fiber providing “empty calories” that are rapidly absorbed by the body causing blood sugar imbalances and insulin spikes that lead to weight gain.
It is the nutrient-deficient refined carbohydrates filled with empty calories that are detrimental, not the unprocessed whole food carbohydrates.
Glucose is used by the mitochondria to make energy also known as ATP which is the body's usable form of energy essential to life and the function of the human body! But the mitochondria and enzymatic processes need nutrients to do their work and carry out the necessary functions.
A healthy liver that can detox effectively is crucial for weight loss and requires not only ATP but also nutrients found in unprocessed whole-food carbohydrates.
The best carbs for losing weight are found in whole fruits, legumes, vegetables, beans, and whole grains such as quinoa and rice. These foods are low in calorie density yet high in micro-nutrients, fiber, water, and antioxidants which is exactly what people need for optimal health and losing weight in a healthy way.
So instead of grouping all carbohydrates which are broken down into glucose into the bad food group instead just ask yourself a simple question.
Is this carbohydrate an unprocessed whole food carbohydrate that can be found in nature? If the answer is yes, great! If the answer is no put it on the list of bad carbs to avoid.
But it makes sense and doesn’t need to be complicated if we stick to eating real whole food.
Which carbohydrates do you think is better?
Blueberries or table sugar?
Kale or Pasta?
Oranges or pop?
Quinoa or cherries?
The answer is pretty clear, blueberries, oranges, kale, and quinoa are nutrient-dense healthy carbohydrates that in no way should be grouped with pasta, table sugar, pop and cheerios that are full of empty calories.
So don’t fear the word carbohydrate, it is the REFINED man-made processed carbohydrates that are not healthy.
A key difference between a processed refined carbohydrate versus a whole food carbohydrate is that the refined carbohydrate has had the fiber removed. When fiber is removed it becomes a refined carbohydrate that is rapidly broken down into glucose and absorbed. The rapid absorption of glucose into the bloodstream leads to insulin spikes with an increased conversion of glucose into stored glycogen or fat to bring high blood glucose within normal range again.
One of the primary benefits of fiber for weight loss is due to the ability of fiber to make you feel full and satiated. Fiber also slows down the absorption of the glucose found in whole foods thus providing a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream for steady blood sugar balance and energy levels.
When whole-food carbohydrates are eaten you will feel fuller for longer plus fiber doesn’t contain any calories so it is easier to lose weight while still feeling satisfied and full.
Some examples of the best carbs for weight loss include:
Whole fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, papaya, mango, apples, banana, mango, oranges, etc.
Vegetables such as leafy greens of all variety, beets, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, cucumber, red peppers, zucchini, green beans, celery, potatoes, etc.
Legumes and Beans such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, peas, etc
Whole grains such as quinoa, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, etc.
Examples of bad carbs for weight loss include all the processed refined carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, crackers, commercial breakfast cereals, donuts, pastries, cookies, pop, fruit, refined sugar, rice crackers, chips, granola bars, etc.
The key difference between a good carb vs a bad carb is determined by whether it is a whole food carbohydrate filled with vitamins, minerals, water, fiber, and antioxidants or whether a carbohydrate has been stripped of its vital nutrients and fiber and turned into a refined carbohydrate.
When it comes to losing weight not all carbohydrates should be avoided, it is the process sugar and refined carbohydrates that contribute to nutritional deficiencies, insulin resistance and difficulty losing weight.
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Hey! I'm Amber, a nutritional therapy consultant helping people to improve digestion, beat the bloat and lose weight. Sharing weight loss tips, gut health tips and whole food recipes that are gluten free. Grab your freebie below:)
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