“I gained, I lost and I gained again!” If you are racking your brains trying to make head or tail of this statement, don’t worry, this is just a snippet from my weight loss journey. All, because I bungled up big time with my diet and I left out the healthy carbs for weight loss from my diet. I guess many of you can relate to this part of the saga of my life!
When you are on a diet, what is the first thing you eliminate from your diet? Well, this one is a complete no-brainer! Carbs of course! There are so many people coming to me and complaining, “I have given up eating rice and roti, yet why don’t I lose weight?” Or add sadly, “I lost a few pounds and gained it all back again.” And on top of that when you eliminate foods with healthy carbs, you feel miserable!
Imagine at lunch time you are munching a plateful of salad while your colleague makes a meal out of dal, rice, and ghee! Being on a diet sucks, especially when you have to eliminate all your favourite carb-heavy foods. But holdit right there! Are you sure you are doing the right thing? How come your colleague who is enjoying his/her meal of dal, rice and ghee is several pounds lighter than you?
Point to ponder upon, right? One reason that carbs are not the villain they are made out to be, is that they contain something called resistant starch. Now, what does resistant starch do? They keep you satiated, make you eat less, lower your cholesterol levels, burn fatter, the works. Basically, it has healthy written all over it.
Now before you reach out for your bagels and donuts and go on a high-carb diet to lose weight; we are talking about the unprocessed variety of carbs, not the refined stuff! Hear us out first, falling in love again with carbs is totally fine, you will be sure of that once you get to hear a great many benefits!
Get your list of good carbs for weight loss ready as carbs are actually your best buddy when it comes to your weight loss journey, because they keep hunger pangs away! Read more to find about the many other benefits of a carb filled diet.
Foods which have given carbs the bad rep, namely the refined carbohydrates such as refined white rice, white bread, white pasta, sugar and so on, spike your blood sugar levels to an abysmally high level. In fact,much more than the healthier complex carbs which we get from whole grains and fruit.
Instead of going overboard on carbs, fat, protein or any one food group, what you really need to do is control your portion. Including healthy carbs to your diet is important, but what is more important is eating the right amount, according to your level of activity. Carbohydrates should form at least 40 to 60% of your diet. Here are more reasons to include carbohydrates into your diet.
You will be surprised to know that carbohydrates are fiber-rich in their natural forms, while those that are stripped of fibers are certainly not healthy. Remember, when your carbs are whole and a single ingredient food, then it can be regarded as healthy food for most people.
Categorising food as good or bad is not really advisable, but then there are some foods which you must avoid at all costs. So here is a general guideline for you to follow, when you are selecting good carbs for your health.
Good Carbs: Vegetables, whole fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains.
People who are trying to lose weight must restrict the carbohydrates and have everything in moderation, especially whole grains, legumes, tubers and high-sugar fruit.
Sugary packaged drinks, packaged fruit juices, white bread (even the brown bread available in your nearest supermarket is not at all healthy. If you read the ingredients, the chief ingredient in them is white flour), pastries, cookies and cakes, ice cream, chocolates, and candies, French fries and potato chips.
Happiness is a bowl of carbs! Well, at least for me, but you need to be sure about the ones to be included in your diet, and some carbs which you need to eliminate, basically all the refined stuff. Also, we think that carbohydrates =rice, bread, pasta. But in actuality, there is other food stuff too that contains carbs.
Why have carbs gotten such a bad rep? For that, we have to understand what exactly happens when we consume carbohydrates. When we have carbs, the body converts most of it into glucose (sugar), which helps fuel brain and muscles cells.
Besides the grey-zoned carbs, they are present in your veggies too! But of course, not all carbs can be treated equally since they are not the same. Carbs can be divided into three types – namely sugar, starch, and fibre. So, the fact that you are eating carbs to lose weight is not important.
However, what matters is the type and quantity of carbs you consume. So here is our take on the carb brouhaha: To carbs, you say welcome back on the plate but to sugar you firmly say, thank you very much for your sweetness, but I’ll manage without you! So, cut down on sugar from your diet but remember to include starch and fibre.
Carbs are weight-loss friendly too, period! But which ones? Which are the healthy carb options? Don’t worry we will list them out for you, just read on!
Chickpeas should be officially renamed as the hunger slayer! The fact it is pretty tasty too works fine for weight-loss pursuers. It has a pretty impressive nutrition profile, as it is pretty low on the glycemic index and hence puts a stop to your hunger cravings. It is versatile too as you can add it to salads or even curries. What’s more? It can lower bad cholesterol. Can you find any cons of this delicious food? Well, we can’t!
The long-lost cousin of the humble potato, it is considered one of the best carbohydrates for weight loss. It contains simple starches and complex carbohydrates. But that’s not all. What takes the cake, nutritionally that is, is the fact that it is high in fiber and beta-carotene, just the vitamins to load on. They are also known as a recovery food. So, bring out the potato fries, everyone! Err, you can have potatoes, but swap them for sweet potatoes and bake them by smearing them with a healthy dose of cold-pressed healthy oil. My favourite is the coconut oil. What’s yours?
I am a big fan of oats, because when I am rushing about trying to fix breakfast amidst the early morning madness, oats come pretty darn handy! They’re easy to cook, and you get your dose of healthy food right at the onset of the day. If you make it interesting, your kids would love it too! Now, what’s so healthy about oats? Everything really, it contains beta-glucan super fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Also, it makes you full for longer as it is digested slowly. So, my morning breakfast is not going to change, overnight oats – I love it!
Weight loss and bananas? Do they even go together? Actually, they are packed with all kinds of wholesome goodness which should make them your go-to food whenever you are on the run. They are great when you have them after your sweat session and even as a mid-meal snack as they are loaded with fast-acting carbohydrates. They are chock full of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, and manganese. Would you believe that they also help prevent cancer? Overall, it should make it to the list of good carbohydrates for weight loss.
Are you someone who avoids peas because they are high in carbs and sugar when compared to other vegetables?But do not forget that they area great source of phytonutrients and on top of it,have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties too. Some comprehensive studies have revealed that peas can prevent stomach cancer.
Why millets? Isn’t it food for birds? Before looking down upon this ancient grain, hear us out. If you love oats, you will adore millets because it is a perfect weight loss carb. It contains a lot of fiber and is pretty low on sugars, it is gluten-free and it contains loads of antioxidants, the scavenger of free radicals. If you are trying to show some millet love, remember, like everything else, it should be consumed in moderation.
There are different kinds of millets to choose from, such as fox tail millets, kodo millets, barnyard, sorghum, finger millets, pearl millets and phew, the list goes on and on! To think that we have been avoiding millets and showing some unconditional love for grains which do not grow on our soil!
This ancient grain of the Aztecs has been rediscovered by the world, although it is still a lesser known grain and you’ll probably need to visit a health-food store or buy it online. It has sweet but peppery taste and is versatile enough to be combined with other grains to get a more mellow flavour. Do you know it’s not a grain but the fruit of a plant? And it is a plant-based protein which everyone swears by these days. It contains more protein than some of the other traditional grains. Amaranth absolutely makes it to my list of complex carbohydrates for weight loss.
Also, here is another fact for you to chew on, you should combine your daily protein needs with complex carbohydrates and choose plant-based protein over animal protein as it is healthy for you and accelerates your weight loss efforts. That’s because when you have animal protein, you get a generous amount of fat and cholesterol with it absolutely free! Well, if you have to know, you have to consume less of these two dietary components to stay on the right side of your health.
The seemingly healthier version of white rice, brown rice is now everyone’s favourite healthy carb food. It is chewy and nutty tasting, contains valuable nutrients and also the much-touted fiber. Brown rice is a whole-grain, and your perfect weight-loss friendly food.
So, now that you know that carbs are not your sworn enemies. Include them and make them a part of a balanced diet. If you are exercising more, then you can add more carbs to your diet, and if you are not a very active person, you should not overdo the carb bit. As you see what works for one does not for another; just chill and enjoy your carbs in moderation. If loving carbs is wrong I don’t wanna be right!
Devi Gajendran is a Post Graduate in Nutrition (University of Madras, Tamil Nadu) and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She is the chief advisor and full time contributor at the Fit Indian and has the final say on all the segments under the Fit Indian paradigm, such as beauty, fitness, home remedies, diseases, diet tips, weight loss, weight gain and so on. A foodie herself, she believes in the Hippocrates quote,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” A fitness enthusiast, she believes that the combination of diet and exercise can work wonders. When she is not sharing her valuable knowledge about food and fitness, she likes to spend quality time with her family members, do some healthy baking and listen to soft soulful music.