If you are on a weight loss diet plan or are looking for one, you probably have heard of the “low carb diet plan” for weight loss. If you have consulted a dietician or fitness expert, you would have probably been give a list with all the foods that are high in carbohydrates (more commonly referred to as carbs) and therefore should be avoided. This is enough to get you wondering if it could be the intake of carbs that caused you to gain weight in the first place.
However, in order to understand if carbs can contribute to weight gain and in what manner, it is important for you to learn what exactly carbohydrates are, in what quantities they are required and how they are processed by your body.
Carbohydrates can be described as the main source of fuel for many of the organs in the body, which could include the brain, the kidneys and the central nervous system. When you consume any food that contains carbs, your digestive system, converts them into glucose.
At the same time, a hormone known as insulin is produced by your pancreas, which helps the glucose to move from the blood, to the cells of the body, where it is stored for energy. Thereafter, as you perform any physical activity, these carbs are burned by your body. The more active your body is the higher the number of carbs you burn.
It is important to realize that there are two types of carb; these include simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are also referred to as “empty calories” as they do not really provide the body with any nutrition. Since, they are processed by the body very easily they spend a longer period of time in the body cells, which could lead to weight gain. One of the main foods, very high in simple carbs is sugar and therefore, all foods that are sweet could lead to a considerable amount of weight gain. Refined flour is also very high in simple carbs. Given below is a list of foods that should be avoided in case you are in a diet, mainly because they contain simple carbs:
Bakery goods with white flour
Sodas and pops
Biscuits and cookies
Pasta made with regular flour
Packaged fruit juice
The consumption of foods that are high in simple carbs can definitely lead to weight gain. These foods increase the levels of sugar in the blood. At the same time, they do not keep you full for a long period of time. Hence, you could end up eating more than normal after consuming high-carb foods, which again is a leading factor of weight gain.
Complex carbs on the other hand, have an opposite effect on the body. Your digestive system has to work much harder to break these carbs down and process them, so that they can enter the bloodstream. As a result of that the absorption of the glucose is much slower, which provides your body with a more steady supply of energy. Complex carbs also keep you full for a longer period of time and therefore, will not really lead to weight gain, if consumed in the right way. This is probably why complex carbs are regarded as “good carbs” by health experts. The following types of grain are high in complex carbs and should be included in your daily diet.
Legumes or pulses are good sources of complex carbs. They also contain folate, calcium, and potassium and are very low on the glycemic index chart. Some of the common complex carb legumes are:
Lentils black beans
Complex carb vegetables are often included in weight loss diet plans as their fat content is negligible and they are rich in minerals and vitamins. Furthermore, their high fiber content coupled with their high fluid content ensure that the individual feels satiated for a longer period and this helps to reduce hunger pangs. Minimize your intake of stewed vegetables and instead have raw or lightly steamed veggies in your diet as cooking reduces their nutritional value. Some high complex carb veggies include:
Include fruits in your daily diet as they are excellent complex carb foods. A small serving of refrigerated fruits is an ideal weight loss snack especially during summer.
There are several other complex carb foods that you can include in your regular diet to help achieve and/or maintain weight loss. Some of these foods include:
Low fat, plain and unflavored yogurt
Oatmeal and oat bran cereal
Soy milk and other soy products
There are some health experts who claim that the consumption of carbs cannot lead to weight gain, as it is the number of calories you consume that really counts. Moreover, by restricting the intake of carbs, you could be depriving your body off several essential nutrients. Most people who follow a low-carb diet end up eating mostly those foods that are high in protein, like red meat, poultry, seafood and nuts. However, eating an excess of proteins can also be unhealthy and can lead to the production of ketones. Therefore, it is best for you to limit your consumption of simple carbs, in order to prevent any weight gain. On the other hand, you can consume a higher amount of foods high in complex carbs. However, do make sure that all your food is prepared in the right manner, using minimal oil and sodium.
Many health experts advise people to restrict their intake of carbs, especially after a certain time of the day. However, it is best to get an approval from a doctor before eliminating any foods from a diet.
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