Carbs have been getting a bad press lately.
Cutting down on carbs has been promoted as a way to get lean and healthy.
However, most people don’t really understand what carbohydrates actually are, let alone how to avoid them.
And since carbohydrates are the main fuel for your brain and muscles, it is important to understand how and why they impact your health and waist.
Naturally, there are good and bad carbs.
Here’s how to choose the good ones and lose the extra weight in the process.
Carbs are basically natural and unnatural.
Most healthy foods are carbohydrate-rich.
These are fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, brown rice, whole grains, corn…
Unprocessed foods are natural for us because these are the foods our bodies evolved to eat.
When we eat them whole, these carbohydrate-rich foods are digested slowly because of all the fiber and micronutrients inside them.
The carbs themselves are complex in nature, slow to digest and fuel you for longer.
In the last century or so, we have begun to refine and process foods.
Whole wheat flour became refined, white flour.
Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup flooded our food supply.
And these processed foods are basically pure carbohydrate without nutritious fiber and micronutrients.
The natural, complex form is destroyed.
Now, these processed carbs are quick to digest, they enter the bloodstream all at once.
Once the bloodstream is flooded with high amounts of carbs, the body desperately starts to store them as fat.
So when you eat sugar, it will get into your bloodstream quickly, raise insulin levels and become body fat.
Processed carbs will not give you energy for long, though.
The misrepresentation of carbs
You get fat by eating processed, unnatural carbs.
That is why, rightfully so, people are being advised to stop eating refined carbs.
These are simply man-made foods that our bodies were never designed to eat.
People are never told, though, that natural carbs have the exact opposite effect on their health.
Natural carbs that are abundant in whole natural plant foods keep you full for longer and do not let you get fat.
How natural carbs make you lose weight
Whole plant foods the foods we evolved to eat.
That is because the primary fuel our body runs on are carbohydrates.
Our brain operates on carbs. If we don’t eat any, we will even digest our own muscles and convert them to carbs.
Natural carbs keep us full and limit overeating
When we eat natural plant foods (fruits, vegetables whole grains and legumes), they are carbohydrate-rich and provide our body with the energy it needs.
These plant foods are also rich in healthy proteins, fats, fiber, and micronutrients. And all of these components are bound together very tight.
When we digest these foods, the carbohydrates need to be extracted from the rest, which is a slow process.
This way, however, our blood is not flooded with high amounts of calories which overwhelm the body and cause havoc everywhere.
Processed carbs cause precisely such a problem which is solved by storing most of these extra carbs from the blood as fat tissue.
Quite the opposite, the slow rate of digestion and absorption of natural carbs allows a steady stream of calories for the body.
Calories which are used to give us energy over a long time.
So we do not get hungry quickly. We don’t overeat.
That’s the beauty of natural carbs, the more you eat, the less hungry will be later on.
Your body simply will digest them over a longer period of time without storing them as fat.
Natural carbs are rich in nutrition that keeps hunger away
All the fiber, micronutrients, healthy proteins and fats are abundant in natural foods.
Processed foods have none.
So when you eat refined carbs, you need to get the nutrition from elsewhere.
You get hungry not for calories but for micronutrients.
Natural foods satiate this type of hunger as well.
That’s OK, what should I eat then?
Whole natural plant foods.
They are carb rich and fuel your body for longer.
They provide all the nutrition and keep you from overeating.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, brown rice, whole grains, corn…
Eat as much as you want and you will lose weight.
Just avoid the oils and animal products, though.
Our section about Understanding Carbs has more info on this subject if you are interested.
In any case, always, seek health consciously.