Carbohydrates – a word that is feared by many but often for all the wrong reasons. Particularly in those who are trying to lose weight, they are known to be a menace and so, that can leave people avoiding carbohydrates like the plague. The truth is, much of this knowledge is wrong and in many cases, a little knowledge can be very dangerous!
Carbohydrates are vital to our health, they are macronutrients that are considered vital for our wellbeing and so, going without them can lead to all kinds of problems. They give us energy to exercise and keep active, they also fuel the brain and help to regular blood sugar. You could call it a jack of all trades.
So, we have made it clear that they are much-needed but this still leaves people running for the hills if so much as anything carbohydrate related comes anywhere near their lips. This is particularly true when it comes to weight gain. So, what is the reality and are the different types of carbs beneficial to us in different ways?
Carbohydrates – The Weight Gainer or is it?
For years, carbohydrates have been blamed for causing a range of weight problems and that has caused many people to go in search of the perfect low-carb diet to help aid their weight loss. Despite this, their belief is a million miles from the truth. Carbohydrates are vital for the body but it is too easy to consume too much and that can mean that we are left with energy that we cannot burn off and so, it is stored in the body.
Don’t panic though, because there are two types of carbohydrates and many people are not away from this. Consuming the wrong type in copious amounts can have a negative impact on weight loss and can see the scales tip in the wrong direction. However, in contrast to this, consuming the right carbohydrates can actually help the body to maintain its weight.
So, what are the two types of carbohydrates?
The first is simple carbohydrates – These are simply sugars and they give us a quick hit of energy when we need it. Commonly found in sugary snacks and such, they are not that good for us and so, when we consume too much, we can gain weight.
The other type of carbohydrate is complex carbohydrates. These are known to have increased levels of dietary starch and are rich in fibre. Therefore, the body digests them slowly, giving it the energy it needs over a longer period. These are found in plant sources including oats and they are also packed with vitamins and minerals making them even better for us.
Weight Control with Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly and this means that it leaves us feeling fuller for longer. As a result, it means that we don’t reach for the snacks and that is where the problem of weight gain can begin. Along with this, complex carbohydrates leave us with more energy over a longer period as the energy from complex carbohydrates is released slowly. What this means is that we don’t suffer from blood sugar spikes and slumps but instead, they remain stable. This means that we also don’t crave sugary treats when we experience these dips and surges in blood sugar. So, if you can avoid these cravings through eating complex carbohydrates then it will mean that we can avoid excessive calories.
So, these carbohydrates help us to manage the way in which we consume foods but they have also been found to burn fat. As they speed up the metabolism, they encourage the release of acids to burn fat while helping to maintain muscle mass.
The Best Foods For Complex Carbs
There are many foods that are naturally high in complex carbs and many of these are plant-based.
Quinoa – Quinoa is rich in carbohydrates but it is also a great source of protein along with B vitamins and magnesium. It is also known to help speed up metabolism and suppress appetite which makes it perfect for weight loss.
Legumes – This will include the likes of beans, lentils and peas, all of which are rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. They also provide a number of benefits for the digestive system which can help to maintain a healthy weight.
Root Vegetable – Grown underground, they take in all of the nutrients from the soil, so they not only provide you with complex carbohydrates but also Vitamins A, C and E as well as magnesium and potassium. To get all of this goodness, try to consume sweet potatoes, onions and potatoes.
Whole Grains – this food group contains the highest value of complex carbohydrates. You can find complex carbohydrates in the likes of bread, pasta and rice. However, you should also understand that you need to identify whole foods from those that are made using refined ingredients such as white bread as these will contain simple carbohydrates.
Fruit – This can be slightly trickier as they can contain a mixture of both simple and complex carbohydrates. However, the positive effects of complex carbohydrates outweigh the negative effects of simple carbohydrates, not forgetting the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that come with it. If you are someone who has a sweet tooth and will often reach for the sweet treats then you will find fruit more beneficial as the sugars are natural. Therefore, you will not experience the same changes in blood sugar levels that you get from refined sugar.
Oats – Oats are something of a super food, especially when you pop them into a protein flapjack or healthy snack. Not only a they an excellent low-GI source of energy but they contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fibre which aids in digestion and energy production.