You may have heard plenty of times how important is to cut on carbohydrates, if you want to lose weight and have a healthier diet. However, doing so is not that easy. Carbs are found in many foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, so getting rid of carbs means to give up on the many health advantages these foods have. What conclusion can be drawn from this?
Getting rid of carbohydrates for good from your diet is not a healthy choice. Actually, while the advice to ‘cut down on carbs’ is right, it does not say to eliminate carbs completely. In fact, if you were to try a diet with zero carbs, you will severely increase your risk of mortality. Maintaining a healthy percentage of your diet in carbs is recommended by the most prestigious healthy organizations. An intake of 45%-75% in your daily diet is their recommendation.
Carbs are not all created equal. While, indeed, there are some that are bad for your health, others are not that bad. By learning which one belongs to each category, you will know more about how to choose the healthy carbs.
Carbs in a nutshell
Carbs come in many different shapes and sizes. While they are all hydrates of carbon, some are simple – monosaccharides and disaccharides – while others are complex – oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.
Simple carbs are found in glucose, sucrose and fructose. Sugar also contains carbs. The problem with simple carbs is that they do not have a high nutritious value, so consuming a lot of them will be bad for your health. Even more, they will not stave off your hunger, so you will not gain anything from them.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, contain fiber and starch. They can be found in broccoli, sweet potatoes, beans and grains.
Because the body takes a while to break them down, they do not cause you the same sugar rush as simple carbs do.
How to differentiate between good and bad carbs
The above categorization in simple and complex carbs may lead you to think that the first are evil, while the latter are good. However, this is not how things are. For instance, white bread may be rich in complex carbs, but this does not make it good for you. Fruits contain plenty of simple carbs, but, in the same time they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other great nutrients for your body.
At this point, you may think that it is really complicated to tell the good carbs from the bad ones. Fret not; the following guide will make your job easier.
One of the simplest rules to keep in mind is that good carbs also have fiber, so this difference will tell you each and every time how to choose correctly.
Among all the carbs, sugar is the worst kind, particularly the refined white sugar. Rich in sucrose, it is obtained from cane and beet root. While its sweet taste makes it loved by anyone, from children to adults, it does not have any nutritional value. Use unrefined sugar, if you must, or, even best honey, because these alternatives are much healthier. All the products with a high content of sugar should be eliminated from your diet if you want to live healthy. Artificial sweeteners and purees obtained from fruits are, also, better alternatives.
Other sources of bad carbs are sweets, candies, soda and potatoes.
Refined grains are stripped of all the vitamins and minerals they have, so it is best to choose whole grains instead for breads and pastas. The latter also make the body consume more energy to digest them and they do not cause sugar rush.
The color is not as important as you think. Make sure that you always read the labels, so that you are not tricked into believing that you are purchasing whole grains when you are actually not doing so.
Among the best whole grains you can find, add to your list whole wheat, whole grain pasta, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, wild and brown rice.
Veggies are great for your health. They have a lot of fiber and they are also rich in various vitamins and minerals. Leafy vegetables are the best you can find, but it is difficult to find them all year round. By eating plenty of vegetables you will live a healthier, longer life.
Vegetables high in fiber include broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts
Never consume fruit juice from commercial sources, as this is usually loaded with sugar. Make your own fruit juice at home, and use dried fruits to add a bit of natural good sugar. Raisins and other varieties are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Fruits high in fiber include apples, mango, guava, bananas, raspberries, oranges, persimmon and pumpkin.
Nuts and legumes
Beans of various kinds and legumes are rich in protein and fiber. They are great for your digestive system and they are also a good ally for regulating sugar levels in your blood.
Legumes and beans are usually found all year round because they store well and they are also cheap. Just grab some delicious recipes and make some great meals for you and your family to enjoy all the benefits offered by these nutritious foods.
Rich in leptin, a special substance that let your brain know you are full, they are great appetite suppressants. Green peas, for instance, are a great choice for any meal.
When you go shopping, do not forget to buy any kind of beans, and lentils, because they are rich in fiber and other nutrients.
Add some nuts to your diet, too, so you can get the necessary intake of carbs, but without loading on the bad kind. Almonds are delicious and great to have in any diet, but so are pecans, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios.