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Carbs and Wellness: Why are they Important?
Carbs and Wellness: Why are they important?
Carbs have been at the center of controversy surrounding weight loss and nutrition, but due to the recent rise in popularity of diets almost entirely eliminating them, their reputation has suffered. Now carbs are being represented by some in the diet industry as ‘bad’ for you, especially when you want to lose weight. However, my other article exploring three different diets (keto, high-carb low-fat, paleo) gives you an overview on how carbs can either be part of your daily regime (high-carb low-fat diet) or mostly avoided (keto diet).
The claim that some diets make, which usually persuade consumers to avoid carbs at all costs, is that you can burn fat without them. This is true. As I explained in my other article, the keto diet, which is high in protein and low in carbs, is effective to make you lose weight fast but it’s not that simple. This diet is not easy to follow and many people can’t stick to it in the long-term, with some of them gaining the weight they lost back. As a result, it seems better to integrate carbs in your diet as they can actually be beneficial if you choose the ‘healthier’ options to make the most out of their nutrients.
In fact, the Cleveland Clinic published a post debunking myths about carbs and integrating advice from a few dietitians to support those claims. They said that when it comes to carbs, they are not the ones making you gain weight. However, you should pay attention to the type and quantity of carbs you consume. For example, processed grains should be avoided (e.g. white bread/pasta/rice) as they don’t contain as much fiber and protein as the whole-wheat options do. Furthermore, another dietitian explained that you should avoid sugary and processed foods, like desserts, crisps, pretzels, etc. These types of carbs contain unnecessary calories and therefore can contribute to weight gain.
Carbs are also a great source of energy, so having a balanced diet combining the three main macronutrients, which are carbs, fat and protein, helps you conduct a healthy lifestyle. When you eat carbohydrates, they are transformed into glucose (sugar) and then they are absorbed into the blood and subsequently your cells. When carbs are transformed into glucose, this is used as energy fuel. Those carbs high in fibre help slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood, so this is also another reason to choose whole-grain carbs rather than ‘white’ alternatives.
However, not everybody knows that carbs are also contained in fruits and vegetables, so it would be difficult to completely remove them from your diet as they are the main source of energy when it comes to food. The Harvard Medical School explains that carbs can be differentiated into two main types: simple and complex. The former includes sugars, which is commonly found in fruit (including juice), sugar additives (e.g. honey, corn syrup, agave), dairy. Whereas the latter focuses on starches, which include bread, pasta, rice as well as some vegetables, like potatoes, corn. However, these complex carbs can be further broken down into two further categories: refined and whole grain. As I mentioned before, the refined ones were those that dietitians discourage people from consuming, while the whole grain ones are healthier for you as they contain more fiber and are not as processed.
Carbs are not only essential for your daily functions of the body, as the NHS says that are really important as well for their benefits at preventing diseases. For example, the fiber contained in carbs, as well as pulses (beans), fruit and vegetables, can help you promote a healthy bowel system, prevent constipation and, in some cases, keep your cholesterol levels in place. Moreover, fibre consumption also helps with preventing cardiovascular diseases and therefore doctors suggest adults to consume around 30g a day of fibre.
Whole grains: quinoa, oats, brown rice, wholewheat pasta
To sum up, try to not cut out carbs completely from your diet as they are a good and healthy source of energy and can keep you full for a long time. They also help prevent some diseases and aid your body daily essential functions. When it comes to carbs, try to opt for those whole-grain and unprocessed options and to limit your intake to one cup per meal, as the Cleveland Clinic suggests. Try and eat a variety of foods to make your lifestyle healthy and balanced to take care of your body and mind.
If you do want to exclude them from your diet, consult a dietitian or another medical expert beforehand so you slowly and effectively adapt your body to this new change in your lifestyle.