Carbs have had a bad reputation for years when it is associated with weight loss. However, diets such as the Atkins Diet, which promotes minimal consumption of carbs, are trendy, and many celebrities have even advocated them. Undoubtedly, if you cut out carbohydrates from your diet, you will inevitably lose weight. But don’t get too excited yet. There is a flip side to the coin.
Diets such as the Atkins Diet are unsustainable. Your body requires carbohydrates to function optimally. How long are you planning to cut your carbs? Sooner or later, you will need to get back on a regular diet.
Once you do that, your lost weight will return with a vengeance. You may even put on more weight than you lost. A lack of carbohydrates will often leave you feeling lethargic and moody, and you will not have the energy to do anything much.
The body won’t be able to provide the required energy for your workout. Carbohydrates provide the fuel that the body needs. You can’t have high-intensity workouts if your body is short on fuel and energy. Your workouts will suffer.
The benefits of Carbs
The truth is that while carbs can make you overweight and sick, they can also help you to lose weight and burn the fat faster than you thought possible. Yes, you read that right. Carbs can help you burn fat.
You just need to know when to eat your carbs and what type of carbs to consume. Carbs are not inherently bad. For example, oatmeal is a carb and excellent for your body. On the other hand, a donut is also a carb, and it’s highly detrimental to your body.
You should be aware of the difference between the two and eat only the good carbs. In this way, you’ll have energy for your workouts and will not be nutrient deficient. You’ll also be less miserable and still lose weight effectively.
There are several benefits of consuming carbs. Let’s look at some of the pros.
Low Glycemic Index
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system that classifies carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Low GI carbs, such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread, pasta, and starchy vegetables, are digested slowly and steadily, causing a gradual increase in blood sugar levels.
High GI carbs, such as white rice, white bread, and pastries, are digested quickly and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.
If you want to lose fat, you need to keep your blood sugar under control.
When you consume high GI carbs, your insulin levels rise rapidly, which causes your body to store fat. At the same time, your energy levels crash, making you feel lethargic and fatigued.
Low GI carbs, on the other hand, keep insulin levels stable, allowing you to burn fat and build muscle.
Carbohydrates provide a constant supply of glucose to the brain, thereby allowing it to function optimally. You will experience headaches, brain fog, and mental fatigue while on a low-carb diet.
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your muscles. Without carbs, your muscles will run out of energy, and you will lose strength and muscle mass.
Carbs are the fuel of choice for high-intensity performance. Though commonly demonized, carbohydrates are, in fact, the best energy source for high-intensity performance.
Now, if you don’t consume carbohydrates, your body will start using fats as its primary energy source.
But think about it … Fats have nine calories per gram as opposed to the four calories per gram in carbohydrates.
This caloric content and the more complex structure of fats make them unsuitable for the momentary demands of high-intensity exercise because fat cannot be used up for energy as rapidly as carbs.
For this reason, if you engage in resistance training frequently, consuming quality carbohydrate sources is needed for optimal performance.
Here are some of the best carb sources you can include in your nutrition plan:
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
- Normal potatoes
Though carbs are superior to fats in the high-intensity performance aspect, quality dietary fats must represent at least 20% of your total daily caloric intake, as they regulate a number of essential processes.
If you also have days when you go through long, low-intensity endurance bouts, eating some more fats will help meet the energy demands of that activity!
They elevate your metabolic rate if eaten at the right time. A diet low in carbs will slow your metabolism, leading to slower fat loss.
Cons of Carbs
Just like how there are pros with carb consumption, there are cons too. Usually, the cons are associated with eating the wrong kind or eating too many carbs.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When your body releases insulin, your blood sugar level drops. When you eat carbs, your body converts them into glucose, which is a type of sugar. The glucose then enters your bloodstream, and your blood sugar level rises.
Insulin then works to take the sugar from your bloodstream and put it into your cells. However, if you have too much glucose in your bloodstream, your body’s cells can absorb too much sugar. When this happens, your cells become overloaded with sugar. This can result in insulin resistance. Overweight or obese individuals are typically at a greater risk of developing insulin resistance.
When carbs are consumed excessively over a prolonged period, you will gain weight, become obese, have insulin insensitivity, etc. Many negative consequences arise from excessive carb consumption.
One gram of carb retains 4 grams of water. Too much carb consumption will leave you feeling and looking bloated.
Lastly, unhealthy carbs cause a host of other health-related problems ranging from high cholesterol to immune system issues.
If you noticed, some of the pros of carbs could become a disadvantage when consuming the wrong carbs.
There is one more thing to be considered to learn the true concept of carbs manipulation, and that is the calories consumed. It all comes down to the calorie expenditure during the day and the fact that not everyone responds the same to carbohydrates.
It’s only a matter of calories in and calories out. You must burn what you consume. Otherwise, it will inevitably be stored as fat by the body. But even so, some genetically blessed individuals are not affected by this, so they can eat many calories and still burn them. But unfortunately, this does not apply to the average joe.
The key here is to eat carbs in moderation. The average adult should consume around 45% to 65% of their daily calories in healthy carbs. Google and research the different types of healthy carbs you should consume. Pick those carbs you like and consume them instead of the commercially refined carb products.
By doing this, you will get the best of both worlds. You will also be able to lose weight and keep it off since you’re not on a restrictive diet. Your diet is sustainable because your food choices are sensible. That’s exactly how it should be.
The Bottom Line
Carbs play an essential role in overall health. They provide the body with energy, help fuel the brain, and support healthy digestion. Carbohydrates also tend to be versatile, making it easy to add them to your diet.
However, the type of carbs that you eat matters. Basic carbohydrates, like white bread and pasta, tend to break down very quickly. This can raise blood sugar levels quickly. This can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and other conditions.
Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are a better option. They take longer to break down, which helps control blood sugar levels. They’re also high in fiber, which is important for digestive health.
The type of carbs that you eat can also affect your health in other ways. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than processed foods. These nutrients provide a number of health benefits.
Carbs aren’t all bad; in fact, they’re very important for overall health. However, like anything else, they need to be consumed in moderation.