Carbohydrates are treated like the enemy by most people today, but they have a purpose in our diet that’s simply misunderstood or ignored.
Do carbohydrates cause weight gain? Should carbs be avoided at night? How many carbs should be consumed on a daily basis? What are the best types of carbs? Many individuals at some point or another have asked these questions. Let me be the one who tells you: carbs are not bad! Yes, you read that correctly—carbs are not bad.
Many people tend to shy away from them as they have gotten a bad rap in the past. However, weight loss and gain has more to do with total caloric intake, as opposed to the macronutrient (carbs, proteins, fats) makeup of your diet (unless there is an underlying medical condition that affects your metabolism).
That being said, it is important to note that a healthy diet is one that is balanced, not having the consumption of any one macronutrient super high or super low. Excess of any nutrient, carbohydrate, fat, or protein over daily needs will cause weight gain.
The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for carbohydrates is 45–65%. Each person’s percentage has to do with his or her health and fitness goals, along with activity level. For example, endurance athletes need more carbohydrates than your average person. For fat loss or muscle gain, carbohydrates should generally make up the highest percentage of macronutrient calories.
Some of the benefits of eating a healthy amount of carbs include:
- Aids in maintaining muscle mass
- Perfect and preferred form of energy
- Provide nutrition that fat and protein cannot
- Parts of the central nervous system rely exclusively on carbohydrates
- Spare protein for building muscle
There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars and are digested very quickly. These include table sugar, fruit drinks, soft drinks, candy, and white breads and pastas. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are often rich in dietary fiber and break down slowly in the body. These are the best types of carbs.
Here are some great complex carbohydrates to include in your diet:
- Green vegetables
- Steel cut oats
- Brown/black rice
- Yams/sweet potatoes
- Ezekiel bread
It is so important for a person to get in tune with their body. Your body will indicate when it is time to eat and when it is time to stop! There is absolutely no need to go throughout your day hungry. Your body needs fuel in order to have sustained energy on a daily basis. In order to avoid feelings of hunger, it is advised to choose unprocessed, whole-food carbohydrate sources such as vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole fruit, and grains to provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals for healthy weight loss.
It doesn’t make sense to experiment with “diets” that cannot be maintained for the long haul. It makes much more sense to eat healthy and clean in appropriate amounts for your body and the level of activity that can be maintained. Eating this way prevents the up and down cycle of a person’s weight. So eat your carbs! Eat your fats and protein too. Balanced eating leads to a healthy lifestyle, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight.