One of the most common advice you will receive when you mention wanting to kick start a diet would be “Remove carbohydrates (carbs) out of your diet”. Carbs have been known to be one of the biggest contributing factor to weight gain, but to what extent is that true? Are carbs actually unhealthy for us?
The reason for weight gain is simple. When the calories consumed exceeds the calories burnt through workouts or movements, you are bound to gain weight, but for some, it could be because of an underlying health condition.
Why carbohydrates are said to be bad and the misconception behind it
Carbs are essential to fuel our bodies with the energy we need to get through the day. People often think that it is the carbs in our meals that make us fat, but that’s not true. Carbs do not make you fat, unless it is consumed in large or excessive amounts, and this goes for any other type of food you consume. This also depends on the amount of activities in your daily lives that keeps you moving. You have to burn what you consume to maintain your weight, burn more than you consume to lose weight, and consume more than you burn to gain weight.
Here’s when you need to understand and know the two different types of carbohydrates — simple and complex carbs (find out more on carbohydrates here). Simple carbs are refined and processed, generally most of our staples such as white rice and bread belong in this category. They contain a higher glycemic index (GI) thus, producing more glucose in our bodies when consumed and thus, causing higher spikes in our blood sugar level.
Complex carbs are the opposite; they are whole foods and grains that are unprocessed, containing a lower GI as it digest slower to release glucose. This then causes a more gradual increase in blood sugar level.
Back to the question, are carbs bad? The answer is no, not necessarily. You just have to watch what you eat, consume in moderation and make informed choices on the type of food you put into your body. Of course, the ideal choice is to consume more complex carbs due to its higher fiber content, but we all have our cravings to satisfy and it is not healthy to restrict ourselves this way either. Restricting yourself too much could in turn lead to binge eating or affect your mood in the long run. In the end, it is the caloric intake that causes weight fluctuation.
Why are carbohydrates important to us in diets?
Carbs are the main source of energy for our bodies, to fuel our brains and vital organs.
Other nutrients such as protein and fat cannot replace carbs as the main provider of energy without obstructing their initial intended use. Fats are not able to digest completely when they are used as a source of energy. Instead, ketones get formed in the body, and could be harmful in the long run. On the other hand, protein serves as a building block for our muscles, organs, skin and hormones, aiding our bodies to repair tissues and grow new cells. When too much protein is consumed, it may affect the kidney’s functionality. Thus, it is not healthy for our bodies to completely cut off carbs, thinking it could be replaced by other foods.
Why carbs are good for us
Carbs keep our moods boosted as it produces a feel-good brain chemical called serotonin. Based on research, people who are restricted to minimal carbs showed more signs of anger, depression and anxiety as opposed to those who consumed the recommended daily intake.
Contrary to the popular belief, carbs help to promote weight loss and prevent weight gain. Increasing the intake of fibrous food in your diet can help to slow down digestion, keeping you full longer. Fiber could be either soluble (found in most fruits and vegetables) or insoluble (found in various food, especially whole foods).
Soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol and blood glucose level, while insoluble fiber helps to get the waste moving through the digestive system and prevent the formation of small blood clots that cause heart diseases. Both of which, are equally important to our bodies. It is recommended that female adults consume at least 20 grams of fiber daily, while men should try to consume 30 grams per day.
Carbs also help us to better memory, stay sharp-witted and generally help us to learn and think better as all of these require glucose to function well.
Risks involved when carbs are too restricted
The commonly seen side effects of restricting carbs to a minimum or cutting off carbs completely are…
- Severe headaches
- Bad breath
- Brain fog
- Heart palpitations
- Hair loss
And the list goes on. There are many adverse side effects, both long and short-term, that affects your health negatively more than you think by cutting carbs off.
What is the best way to lose weight then?
You are what you eat
Keep track of what you eat and try to opt for healthier options whenever you can, so that you don’t hit a calorie surplus instead of a deficit. Count your caloric intake by writing it down or using a health app on your mobile devices if it helps you better. Portion control is vital in dieting as well. Consuming more fibrous food will help to fill you up even though it is low in calories, at the same time, it helps to control your blood sugars and improve gut and heart health.
Find the best diet plan for your own body
We all have different body types and nutritional needs. It is best to plan out a sustainable and well-balanced diet for the best long-term results by seeking professional help. Crash diets work, yes, but only for a short period of time and are mostly temporary weight loss from the water weight in your body. However, they are usually not feasible to keep up with and could cause a yo-yo effect when binge eating occurs after.
Be active, get moving!
Exercise and staying active plays an important role in keeping us fit and healthy. It is recommended that adults exercise for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic workouts weekly. Make time for a 30-minutes to an hour of workout, three to four times a week without increasing the amount of caloric intake daily and you’ll surely see results. It is also good to include strength training in your routine to build up muscles in your body.
Add Alchemy Fiber™ Into Your Carbs To Make Them Healthier!
Alchemy Fibre™, a slowly-digestible carbohydrate that is high in dietary fiber and contains prebiotics. Alchemy Fibre™ consists of a patented blend of 100% plant-based ingredients, such as corn, peas and tapioca, making it vegan-friendly. When added to carbs such as white rice, bread or noodles, Alchemy Fibre™ lowers your glucose release levels by slowing down the digestion of carbs, while raising its overall dietary fiber content without changing the food’s taste or texture.