With the recent trend of low carb food and low-fat diet in the fitness arena, carbohydrates have come to the limelight, and while some dieticians suggest following a low carb diet to lose weight others suggest following a high carb diet rich in complex carbs. But do we really know what is carbohydrates and how it should be included in a balanced diet chart? Well, carbohydrates belong to a class of biomolecules that plays important roles in the body, such as energy transportation, healthy functioning of the immune system, fertilization and blood clotting. Carbohydrates or saccharides work as long term food storage molecules, as the structural support for cells and their protective membrane. Foods that have high starch content such as beans, potatoes, rice, cereals and bran are a rich source of carbohydrates.
Types of Carbohydrates
There are primarily three types of carbohydrates present in foods. These carbohydrates are required by the body to produce glucose that works as fuel and provides energy to maintain proper functioning of the body.
Starch – Starch are also known as complex carbohydrates have multiple sugar units and a starchy taste. Such carbohydrates do not cause any sudden rise in blood sugar level and are useful for those suffering from diabetes. Some foods rich in starch are potatoes, lima beans, peas, corn, lentils, oats, rice, barley, wheat flour.
Sugar – Sugar is another form of carbohydrate and has a simple form. Sugar is found in various forms – it can occur naturally in milk, fruits and fruit juices that make the main components of detox diet to lose weight. Added sugar can be found in processed foods such as canned fruits, cookies, etc.
Fiber – Fiber is the healthiest form of carbohydrate that comes from plant-based foods. But it cannot be found in animal-based foods such as milk, fish, eggs, meat and poultry. Both simple and complex fiber has specific health benefits and helps in improving digestive health, reducing the cholesterol level and protecting cardiovascular health.
Mistakes and Misconceptions about Carbs
The biggest confusion about any diet lies in the amount of carbohydrate intake. It is difficult to understand what types of carbohydrates are good for health and in what amount. Moreover, there are several misconceptions about carbohydrate foods.
Not all Carbs are the same
Most people think that all carbohydrates are harmful and therefore eliminate them completely from the diet and start following a no carbohydrate diet. But this is not true. The carbohydrates that you need to limit are processed carbohydrates that are present in packed foods made from refined sugar and white flour.
Simple carbohydrates foods like white bread, white rice, packed fruit juices with added sugar and potatoes should be consumed with restraint, because they are digested and absorbed rapidly which shoots up the blood sugar level and raises the level of insulin in the body, which not only enhances fat storage, but also lead to insulin resistance.
Healthy versus Unhealthy Carbs
It is important to differentiate the healthy carbs from the unhealthy ones because most low carb diet mistakes arise from this confusion. Complex carbs are low glycemic index foods that take more time to be broken down and digested in the intestine, which keeps you satiated for a longer period and prevents sudden rise in the level of blood sugar.
Unlike processed carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates have low glycemic index, so that less insulin is released by the pancreas. This is exceedingly beneficial for people suffering from diabetes. In addition, these complex carbs are loaded with vitamins, natural antioxidants and essential minerals for the body.
Combination of Carbohydrates and Protein for better Weight Loss
Although most fitness enthusiasts and aspiring bodybuilders concentrate only on proteins to promote the formation of lean muscle mass and burn calories and opt for low carb eating, but the combination of proteins and carbohydrates is a better option in this case and a bodybuilding diet plan for mass gain is literally incomplete without carbs.
Therefore, weight loss foods must include both proteins and carbohydrates because protein is satiating and has high thermic effect. The body will need more energy to process the proteins and complex carbohydrates. This particular combination boosts the metabolism and speeds up the fat burning process of the body.
Eating Carbs does not Cause Weight Gain
One of the most common misapprehensions about carbohydrates foods is that high carb foods cause weight gain and this also leads to many low carb mistakes. The reason for this misconception lies in the inability to discriminate between healthy and unhealthy carbs. Complex carbs are made up mostly of fiber and other essential nutrients that take a longer period of time to break down and digest and keeps you satiated for longer, which in turn reduces the craving for unhealthy snacks.
Therefore, complex carbohydrates actually help in weight loss and hold an important place in simple 1200 calorie diet plan for weight loss. And keeping the body deprived of carbohydrates for too long will promote it to convert dietary protein stored in the muscles into glucose by breaking down the muscle mass and this can eventually cause anemia. Some of the fat burning carbohydrates are quinoa, millet, brown rice, legumes, vegetables and lentils.
Carbs do Not Cause Indigestion
Yet another mistake people do about carbs it that eliminate them entirely from the food list because they blame it for indigestion, bloating and gas formation in the stomach. But in reality, the problem of indigestion is not caused by food with low carbs or high carbs, but due to the presence of gluten. Gluten is a kind of protein present in barley, rye and wheat and this protein adds the chewy texture to the grains.
Certain people are sensitive or intolerant to gluten and the symptoms may include gas, bloated abs, stomach cramping, indigestion and headaches. But, with the rising awareness of gluten sensitivity, more and more gluten free foods are becoming available in the market. Substituting regular whole grains with gluten free whole grains will help in preventing indigestion.
Carbs in Limited Amount Don’t make you Sleepy and Lethargic
Another common misconception about carbohydrates foods is that because of their starch content, eating carbs makes one lethargic and sleeping during the afternoon. But in reality, the glucose formed by breaking down the carbs move through the bloodstream and fuels the mitochondrial furnaces that enhance brain power.
Carbohydrates that contain starch and sugar are the best source of glucose and the best food sources of these carbohydrates are whole grain, vegetables, fruits and legumes. But, consuming excessive carbohydrates all at once can deplete energy supply to the brain. Therefore, it is best to follow a low-carb diet containing a limited amount of complex carbs.
Carbs Help in Boosting the Mood
Too much work pressure and stress making you feel low? Don’t reach out for an antidepressant drug yet. Try to consume carbohydrates instead. Certain research shows that a diet rich in carbohydrates promote the release of feel-good chemical serotonin which not only enhances the mood, but also helps in relieving stress, depression and fatigue so that you feel energised and happy.
People who consume food low in carbs are more likely to suffer from depression, anger and anxiety than those who follow a low-fat and high-carb diet.
Carbs are Heart Friendly
Carbohydrates contain both soluble and insoluble fibers that are extremely beneficial for health. Consumption of soluble fiber from high carb foods such as oatmeal and beans helps in lowering the level of harmful LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream while raising the level of healthy HDL (high density lipoprotein).
Low glycemic index foods are digested at a comparatively slower pace in the intestine that does not raise the blood sugar and insulin level, which in turn prevent the increase of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure.
List of Healthy Carbohydrates for Weight Loss
Carbohydrates are undoubtedly one of the most controversial nutrients and most people are utterly confused whether to include it in their daily diet or not. The trick here is to identify and choose the right carbs. You can get your daily dose or carbs from candies or whole grain bread – the choice is yours but it is important to know that complex carbs present in whole grains, fruits and vegetables are healthy carbohydrates because they are also loaded with soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Foods made from wholegrain comprise of all the three parts of the grain, namely – the germ, the endogerm and the barn layer. Whole grain foods are loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and are extremely low in cholesterol and fat that makes them the ideal food for weight loss.
Replace simple carbs such as white rice and white flour with brown rice, whole grain oats, wheat, breakfast cereals and whole wheat bread. No doubt, oatmeal and weight loss are a hot topic of discussion in the fitness circles.
Vegetables are the healthiest of carbohydrates that form a complete combination of fibers, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that not only fights the damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress, but also protects against various chronic diseases.
Therefore, nutritionists and dieticians recommend eating fruits and vegetables to lose weight and to maintain proper health. Some of the healthiest vegetables are spinach, broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, kale, celery, etc.
Fruits are yet other powerful source of complex carbohydrates along with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits are an amazing source of various antioxidants that are more effective compared to those found in vegetables. It is recommended to include at least 2 servings of fruits in the daily diet.
Some of the healthy fruit choices are all types of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries along with oranges, pineapple, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, pears and banana. But it is better to consume whole fruits than fruit juices.
Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are an amazing source of carbohydrates and protein along with other vital nutrients that make it a complete food for health. The carbohydrates present in legumes have low GI index making them ideal for people suffering from diabetes.
Foods with low GI (Glycemic Index) break down slowly in the intestine and prevent sudden rise or dip in blood glucose levels.
Low Fat Dairy
Low-fat dairy products and milk are a great source of carbs along with a significant amount of protein, and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and calcium. A cup of milk contains 12 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein whereas a cup of yogurt has 17 grams of carbohydrates and 12.9 grams of protein. Dairy products also contain a significant amount of riboflavin, vitamins A, B and D.
So, now that you know which type of crabs is good for your health, include it in your daily diet to promote healthy weight loss and protect your heart.