So, you’re ready to lose weight. You know some of the carbs in your diet aren’t helping, but giving up carbs completely seems extreme and even unhealthy. Your body needs carbohydrates, but as you can probably guess, not all carbs are created equal. There are simple carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates. There are processed carbs, and those that exist naturally. Which ones do you think are the best carbs for weight loss? That’s right! The ones that are in their natural form — not the ones you find in a package or box at the supermarket. Let’s delve deeper into this subject, because you need to know the best carbs for weight loss to keep that weight off for good!
Do we need carbohydrates to stay healthy?
Carbohydrates are like fuel for your system. They give you energy, promote healthy growth of muscles, and even help balance blood sugar levels. Yes, the right carbs are good for your blood sugar, while the wrong ones aren’t. In fact, the wrong types of carbohydrates will cause weight gain, decrease your energy, and take your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride. For all these reasons, you need to know how to discern which carbs are right for your weight loss goals and overall health.
What are simple carbohydrates?
Simple carbs are the ones you want to stay away from. High in sugar, these carbohydrates may give you an energy rush, but the rush isn’t sustainable. They send insulin levels soaring, and then there’s the crash, which leaves you feeling sluggish and even depressed. When insulin goes soaring, blood sugar levels take a nosedive. This is the reason you feel the fatigue, the foul mood, and general malaise. Chances are, you’ll likely feel hungry again soon.
Eating simple carbs sabotages weight loss by increasing your appetite. And you typically crave the wrong foods — more sugary simple carbs. It’s a vicious cycle. Studies show how easy it is to gain weight if you eat too many simple carbs.
Examples of simple carbohydrates
- White potatoes
- White rice
- Pastries and ready-made baked goods
- Rice cakes
- Puffed cereals
Note: Not all simple carbs are bad for you. Take potatoes, for example. They contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that benefit your body. But, you’ll want to eat them in moderation, as they do have a high glycemic index, which we’ll talk about later.
What are complex carbohydrates?
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are the best carbs for weight loss. They’re some of the healthiest foods on the planet. They give you the energy to exercise and sustain your energy. Complex carbs are nutrient-dense, free of added sugars, and generally unprocessed. They increase your endurance, making them excellent foods to eat before working out. They also help balance blood sugar levels, another key to healthy weight loss. What’s more, they support healthy digestion, rather than the opposite.
Complex carbs also support post-workout recovery, and offer up a treasure trove of health benefits. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in certain complex carbohydrates help decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you’ve ever heard of the glycemic index, you might be aware that every food has a corresponding number on the glycemic scale. Simple carbs have high numbers, while complex carbs have much lower numbers. As a general rule, the healthier the food, the lower the number. The best carbs for weight loss will have a low glycemic index number.
Examples of complex carbohydrates
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruit like apples, peaches, plums, pears, grapefruit, oranges, and grapes
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
- Beans and legumes
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Cruciferous vegetables, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli
- Squash such as zucchini, pumpkin, and butternut squash
How to eat more healthy carbs
There are lots of tips and tricks you can implement to help yourself lose weight. It’s all about swapping out old habits for new ones. Now that you know exactly which carbs are good for you and which aren’t, you can start making the necessary changes to your diet. All it takes is a bit of discipline. Here are a handful of ways to swap out bad carbs for good ones:
Drink more water
The more water you drink, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for sugary beverages. Your body needs water to lose weight. Research shows that sugary drinks increase your risk of obesity and serious health conditions like diabetes. Stop buying sugary sports drinks or soft drinks, and start drinking more water!
Swap white breads for whole grain breads
The white breads you buy at your grocery store are no good for weight loss. They have very high glycemic numbers and they do all the detrimental things to your body that we spoke of above. This doesn’t mean you have to give up bread completely. You can still enjoy breads, in moderation. You just need to make sure they’re made from whole grains. Each grain has a number on the glycemic index. If you choose to eat bread made from grains with low numbers, you’ll be fine. Always check ingredients — the fewer artificial additives, the better.
Swap fruit juices for whole fruits
There’s nothing wrong with drinking fruit juices if you’re trying to be healthy, right? Wrong! Fruit juices might seem to be a health food, but in reality, they’re not. Fruit juices typically contain lots of sugar, as well as artificial ingredients. All processed foods should be eliminated if you’re serious about losing weight. Whole fruits, on the other hand, are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Their sugars are naturally occurring, which means there’s less of them. Enjoy an apple, grapefruit, pear, or plum when you want. Berries are loaded with beneficial antioxidants and are amongst the best carbs for weight loss. Enjoy fruits with a low glycemic number.
Eat more beans and legumes
If you eat lots of potatoes, breads, pastas, white rice, etc., chances are, you aren’t eating enough beans and legumes. They’re brimming with nutrition and full of protein. Protein is necessary for weight loss because it positively affects the body’s response to ghrelin, which is a hormone related to appetite. Beans also digest slowly, which means they help keep blood sugar levels balanced. They also fill you up. If you can get into the habit of eating more beans, you’ll naturally eat fewer simple carbs.
Swap simple carbs for veggies
Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles can make a great substitute for pasta, and cauliflower crumbles can be used in place of rice or even used to make a mashed potato substitute.
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight-loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!