Carbohydrates: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Good morning, friends! It’s difficult to keep up with a blog during the summer, I am realizing. It’s just hard to find the motivation when it’s beautiful outside. Anyone else agree!? We didn’t try any new recipes this week so I decided to write about our favorite friends, the carbohydrate. This is actually a guest post that I wrote for Lauren from Eater Not a Runner. Although I don’t believe she has posted anything, I decided to post this one on my website because I had nothing else to share! I’m a slacker!

For the past 10 + years, we’ve been hearing all kinds of hype about low carb diet trends that are supposed to speed up weight loss and improve overall health. We’ve sworn off the bread bowl, scoffed at the pizza guy, and said “as if” to the thought of anything but an egg white omelet for breakfast!

But are carbohydrates REALLY the enemy?

What if there was a way to lose weight and STILL eat pasta, breads, cereals, AND keep hunger at bay?

Turns out we CAN enjoy our favorite food group and keep our weight in check by following a diet high in complex carbs (only there’s nothing complex about it)!!!!!

The Good

  • Carbohydrates are essential for every cell of your body. They can be found in breads and pastas as well as fruits and vegetables. Your body breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose. This rise can vary depending on the type of carbohydrate you eat . So your body releases a hormone called Insulin which grabs glucose and puts it into cells. Think of a mother bird feeding her baby. Your cells are the baby bird and insulin is the mama. Without the mother )., they cannot be fed. Once insulin successfully places glucose into your cells, blood sugar falls and you feel hungry, lethargic and cranky. TIME TO EAT AGAIN!
  • You will feel hungry sooner if you don’t eat carbs as quickly as possible. ????????? Which carbs should you choose to stop hunger? Which carbs to choose to keep hunger at bay??????????
  • Complex carbohydrates These “good guys” are called. Because they are slow to digest nutrients such as fiber, they have a moderate effect on blood sugar. They keep you fuller for longer. Complex carbs contain vitamins E, magnesium and zinc. They can be found in fruits, legumes and whole grains. MMmmmmMmm

The Bad

  • How is it fair to lump all carbs in the same category!!?? An “A” student wouldn’t want to share the honor roll with a flunky now would they?? We must differentiate between complex carbs, “the GOOD guys,” and simple carbs, “the not so good guys.” (Side note: I hate the word “bad”).
  • Simple carbohydrates are those found in refined products like candy, cookies, cakes, and white flour. The term “not so good” represents the fact that simple carbohydrates contain very little nutritional benefit. Since these carbs are broken down so quickly, your body will actually feel hungry much sooner. In fact, researchers believe the rise in obesity and diabetes in the United States is directly proportional to the ever increasing amount of simple carbohydrates on the store shelves!

The Ugly

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) falls within the category of “simple” carbohydrates. It is termed “UGLY” because of the way it gets digested by the body. It’s really not as “natural” as the corn industry would like us to think. High fructose corn syrup was created by changing the sugar (glucose) in cornstarch to fructose (another sugar). The end product is a fructose-glucose combo (similar to sugar), able to extend shelf life and sweeten your favorite processed foods in a much cheaper way.
  • ”A new study of rats by researchers from the University of Florida suggests that a diet high in fructose may lead the body to develop a resistance to a protein called leptin, which helps control appetite. More research is needed to fully understand the relationship.” But this could be making our Nation gain weight since HFCS is literally in just about everything. Try reading an ingredients label, it’s crazy how much stuff it’s in!!

Will My Low-Carb Lifestyle Help Me Lose Weight?

Yes and No. Following a low-carb diet is torture, in my opinion. There are just too many wonderful health benefits of complex carbohydrates that I could never give them up!! While low-carb diets may appear to help you initially drop weight quickly, long term weight-loss is much less successful. When you restrict your body of one of its main fuel sources, you find yourself tired, moody, cranky, and craving those foods you love. It’s almost impossible to maintain in the long-term.

So how can you eat carbs AND lose weight??

Sticking with a diet that is rich in complex carbohydrates and low in those simple carbs mentioned above, will immediately aid in your weight-loss efforts. Think about it. When you take away those simple carbs, you are eliminating MOST unhealthy snack products, ALL soda pop, and adding tons of fiber! Focusing on complex carbohydrates will help you to follow a diet that is rich in WHOLE foods! After all, it’s what Mother Nature intended…isn’t it?

Additional Tips That Will Aid Your Weight-Loss Efforts

  • Pair meals with a small salad and add lots of veggies or a light soup->this will help you feel fuller faster.
  • Bulk up meals and snacks with fruits and vegetables to get more vitamins and nutrients to your daily diet, without excess calories.
  • Include lots of fiber-rich foods to help you feel fuller for longer and keep your digestive system working smoothely! Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day and look to WHOLE foods for your main sources!

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