There is a lot of controversies out there about carbohydrates. Some diet fads propose that you obliterate them from your meal plan entirely. Other diets preach that carbohydrates are essential. However, when it comes to safe and quick weight-loss, there is simply no one-size-fits-all solution for carbohydrate needs.
While it is important to have a weight loss nutrition plan that is tailored to your specific needs, we can share some information about carbohydrates that you should consider if you are trying to lose weight.
The quickest and safest way to lose weight is to create a calorie deficit. When it comes to carbohydrates, it’s less about whether or not you should include them in your diet and more about how they affect your caloric intake.
Not all carbohydrates are considered equal. In fact, carbohydrates are found in almost all foods and provide around four calories per gram. However, different carbohydrates affect your body in different ways; and the way in which carbohydrates affect your body is highly specific to you.
Simple Versus Complex Carbohydrates
Foods that contain carbohydrates generally fall into two categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.
To understand simple and complex carbohydrates, it is important to know that all carbohydrates are connected in a chain. These chains are either broken down by the body quickly (simple carbohydrates), or the body breaks them down at a slower rate (complex carbohydrates).
Foods that are high in simple carbohydrates include sweeteners such as table sugar, syrup and honey, sweets, jellies and jams, and refined flour. Some fruits, vegetables, beans and dairy contain simple carbohydrates too. The chain for simple carbohydrates is short and, therefore, they are broken down by the body quite quickly.
Interestingly, the short-chain is why simple carbohydrates taste sweeter than complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down as their connected chain is longer than that of simple carbohydrates. Because it takes longer for the body to break these chains down, your digestion slows, resulting in feeling fuller and more satisfied. Complex carbohydrates can either be in the form of starch or fibre. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates include rice, pasta, bread, beans, and whole grains.
The Right Carbohydrates
Although your nutrition plan should be developed for your specific carbohydrate needs, there are some carbohydrate choices that you can make to ensure that your intake is nutrient-dense.
For example, it is best to focus on eating more complex carbohydrates from whole food sources such as oats, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, buckwheat, vegetables, beans, and nuts. Foods like these that are not refined tend to be also good sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals and are the kinds of carbohydrates you should aim for in order to lose weight and stay nourished.
It is also important to eat fewer simple carbohydrates from refined sources if you are looking to lose weight safely and effectively. Carbohydrates to avoid include white rice, white bread, and traditional pasta. These foods are more processed and refined and lack fibre. When it comes to weight loss, eat simple carbohydrates in moderation.
While understanding how carbohydrates work is important, it is crucial that you also understand that, no matter if a carbohydrate is simple or complex, the volume that you eat must still be within your calorie allowance. Overeating any food will cause weight gain. Working with weight loss specialists, such as Alevere Northampton, will ensure safe and effective weight loss that is right for you and your weight loss goals. Learn more about our Alevere Therapy programme here.