Carbohydrates or carbs have gained a lot of negative publicity in the recent years with the sudden surge of quick fixes and celebrity diets .These diets are quick to tell us that all carbs are bad and the best way to drop those kilos and get the perfect bikini body is to get rid of carbohydrates from our diet.
However what they fail to tell us is that carbohydrates are vital for our survival as they are our body’s major energy source and the only source of fuel for our brain. Carbohydrates are present in almost all our foods, from grains to fruits to vegetables and even milk, so in the true sense we can never completely eliminate them from our diet.
Where we go wrong is when we consume the wrong type of carbohydrates in excess. What we need to understand and focus on is to consume the correct types of carbohydrates.
Broadly we can classify themas simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. They are found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products and also found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks.
Complex carbohydrates require more time for digestion and therefore provide a slow flow of energy. These are found mainly in whole grains, legumes and vegetables.
Fiber is the indigestible part of carbohydrates; our body cannot break down fiber completely.
All carbohydrates except fiber are ultimately broken down into glucose and used by the body for energy. but the difference is that simple carbohydrates cause a sharp rise and drop in blood sugars, causing you to feel hungry more often. In addition if these sugars come from refined processed foods like maida, candies and soft drinks instead of fruits or milk they do not provide you with any additional nutrition, causing you to consume only calories.
In contrast complex carbohydrates, because they take a longer time to digest, release energy at more consistent rate and do not cause a sharp rise and drop in blood sugar levels thus keeping you fuller for longer. In addition complex carbohydrates sources are vegetables, legumes and whole grains which also contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals.
We store carbohydrates mainly in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen and for each gram of glycogen stored we store about 3-4 gms of water as well .
So when we cut out carbs from our diets we deplete our glycogen stores and with that we also lose water, so the weight that we drop is actually water weight.
So how do we use all this information in everyday life??
Instead of cutting out carbs altogether we need to use them sensibly. About 55% of our calories should come from carbs preferably complex carbs.
Opt for whole grains example brown rice or unpolished rice instead of white rice, wholemeal bread instead of white bread,wholewheat flour instead of maida.
Make legumes and beans a regular part of your diet. Eat plenty of vegetables every day.
When you crave sweets pick up fresh fruit instead, in this way you satisfy your cravings plus give your body the benefit of vitamins minerals and fiber.
Avoid table sugar, confectionery, desserts, bakery products and soft drinks which provide your body with only calories and no nutrition.
Remember: Do not avoid them completely, enjoy them in moderation. Make small changes every day; that way you are more likely to stick to it. It might be challenging at first and you might find it difficult to recognize and replace simple carbs but it will eventually become a way of life and you will start noticing the difference in yourself. You will start feeling lighter, fresher, and more energetic. You will start noticing the decrease in sugar cravings and see the kilos dropping.