Eat Your Carbs!
Did I get your attention? You're saying to yourself, "No way will I eat carbs!". That's how so many of us feel when it comes to eating carbs. We follow all of the advice out there that carbs are bad, and we avoid them at all costs. It's really the only way to lose weight, right? While initially it may look as though avoiding carbs will help you lose weight, I thought I would give you some information to help you understand the benefits of carbs, and why they may actually help you lose weight.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient along with proteins and fats. A macronutrient is a nutrient our body needs in large amounts in order to function properly. These nutrients provide our body with energy to do all of the activities we love to do. Our body uses carbohydrates as our main source of energy by converting them into fuel. Many of us are on diets that avoid carbohydrates because we have been told that if we can change the way our body works, to use fat for our energy source, this will force our body to burn fat instead of glucose, sugar, from carbohydrates. The end result is a lower number on the scale. In theory, this sounds great. We all want to burn more fat, so we can be lean, be toned, and to be the weight we have always wanted to be. I mean let's be honest, no one is really ever happy with their weight, and we are willing to do what we have to in order to get as close to our ideal weight as possible.
You might be one of those people who say, "Yes, being able to burn fat to use as a fuel source instead of carbs has helped me lose the weight, and give me the body I want." I say, "Congratulations!". I don't ever want to take that away from someone, because it's not always easy to feel your best. My question is, do you really understand what's happening to your body when you don't eat carbs? It just doesn't seem right to deprive our body of a major nutrient that we need to survive. Our bodies were designed to need certain nutrients for a reason, so who are we to tell our bodies they are wrong, and spend our lives making our bodies do something they weren't designed to do?
When we use fat as our fuel source, the number on the scale will change. What we don't see though, is what is happening on the inside. In order to burn more fat we have to eat more fat. Saturated fat is one of the highest contributors of inflammation in our body. When you are eating a high fat, high animal protein diet, you are eating a large amount of saturated fat. Since this is the number one marker for inflammation in our body, we are now more susceptible to damage to our arteries, organs, and joints. This inflammation can contribute to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. There is research out there that also says a low to no carbohydrate diet can also help those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. On the outside that looks to be correct. When placed on these diets your blood sugar levels will show a decrease. But again, what you don't see is what is going on inside the body. Diabetes isn't just about blood sugar, but also about carbohydrate intolerance. Being carbohydrate intolerant means when you eat a carbohydrate your blood sugar sky rockets, and you need help regulating it. When you eat a low carb or no carb diet, your carbohydrate intolerance actually increases. If you don't eat any carbs, the second you eat one, your body will freak out and blood sugars will skyrocket again, which actually exacerbates diabetes.
So what does this mean for us? It means carbohydrates are a vital part of our diets. Are some bad, absolutely. And this is where we get confused. We hear that some carbohydrates are bad for us like, white flour, processed foods, cookies, candies, and cakes. These are definitely carbohydrates to avoid. But that doesn't mean that all carbohydrates should be avoided. Some carbohydrates like quinoa, oats, buckwheat, bananas, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, and chick peas to name a few, are excellent for weight loss, fiber consumption (one of the number one factors of weight loss) contain antioxidants, reduce insulin resistance, lower cholesterol, are rich in Vitamin C, B, K, and protein. These types of carbohydrates make you feel satiated after eating which helps you to eat less and feel good after eating. Also, since whole grains are one of the best sources of fiber, they help reduce constipation, which I know is a common issue for many of us in America.
So what if you gave it a try? What if you replaced two meals this week with a healthy carbohydrate meal instead of an animal product meal high in saturated fat? See how it makes you feel. What benefits do you get out of it? Keep in mind if you have been eating a low carb diet, your body may freak out a little the first time you introduce a carbohydrate to it again. Keep at it slowly and see over time if your body begins to regulate back to its preferred state, and how that improves your health. Here are two great recipes you can try!
Vegan Fried Rice Don't be deterred by the tofu. I'm not a big fan of tofu, but this one is really good!
Crispy Quinoa Sweet Potato Fritters These are great by themselves or made into a sandwich
Let me know what you think about carbs, and how you like the recipes. Want to know more about carbs and how to move towards a healthy, whole foods based diet? Contact Lindsay for a complimentary health consultation today!
All facts and research can be found on nutritionfacts.org and in Dr. Michael Greger's book, "How Not To Diet".