When it comes to losing weight in a healthy way, it’s essential 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. Still, the truth is, unprocessed plant-based carbohydrates have a low caloric density yet are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals which are highly beneficial for losing weight in a healthy way.
Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links, as an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
But not all carbs are equal so let’s talk about good carbs vs bad carbs so that you can confidently know how to choose the good carbs for weight loss.
What is the difference between good and bad carbohydrates?
A simple way to determine the difference between good carbs vs bad carbs is to ask whether this carbohydrate has 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.
All carbohydrates are broken down into glucose for absorption. Still, whole-food carbohydrates also contain a wide variety of micro-nutrients required to utilize 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.” The empty calories are rapidly absorbed by the body, causing blood sugar imbalances and insulin spikes that lead to weight gain.
The nutrient-deficient refined carbohydrates are filled with empty calories that are detrimental, not the unprocessed whole food carbohydrates.
The mitochondria use glucose to make energy, also known as ATP, which is the body’s usable energy essential to life and the human body’s function! But the mitochondria and enzymatic processes need nutrients to do their work and carry out the necessary roles.
A healthy liver that can detox effectively is crucial for weight loss and requires nutrients found in unprocessed whole-food carbohydrates.
The best carbs for losing weight are 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, precisely what people need for optimal health and healthily losing weight.
Instead of grouping all carbohydrates, which are broken down into glucose, into the wrong food group instead, ask yourself a simple question.
Is this carbohydrate an unprocessed whole food carbohydrate that is 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 are better?
Blueberries or table sugar?
Kale or Pasta?
Oranges or pop?
Quinoa or cherries?
The answer is pretty straightforward, 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 human-made processed carbohydrates that are not healthy.
The crucial difference between bad vs good carbs
A critical 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 rapidly broken down into glucose and absorbed. The rapid absorption of glucose into the bloodstream leads to insulin spikes with increased glucose conversion 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 fiber’s ability 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 normal 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.
The best way to determine between a good carb vs a bad carb is to ask whether this carbohydrate has been processed in any way. If you want to lose weight and reverse type 2 diabetes, the best foods to lower blood sugar are high fiber plant-based foods.
Some examples of the good carbs for weight loss include:
Vegetables such as;
- leafy greens of all variety
- red peppers
- green beans
Legumes and Beans such as;
- black beans
- kidney beans
Whole grains such as;
- brown rice
Examples of bad carbs for weight loss include all the processed, refined carbohydrates such as;
- commercial breakfast cereals
- refined sugar
- rice crackers
- granola bars
The critical difference between a good carb vs a bad carb is 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, good carbs for weight loss include high fiber plant-based foods. The processed sugar and refined carbohydrates contribute to nutritional deficiencies, insulin resistance, and difficulty losing weight.
Sign up to get your free weight loss cheat sheet here