Can Carbohydrates from Whole Grains Help You Lose Weight?
Carbohydrates are often the first thing people want to cut out of their diet when looking to lose weight. Carbs are seen as unhealthy, as they are usually linked to foods that are a dieter’s worst enemy, such as cake, cookies and pizza. However, whole grains are also a great source of carbs, and by incorporating more into your diet, rather than less, you can ensure you’re getting all the health benefits they provide, as well as giving yourself the best chance to shift those unwanted pounds.
What are carbohydrates?
Traditionally, carbohydrates were divided into two groups: simple and complex. Much of the negativity surrounding carbohydrates referred to the simple, or so-called 'bad' carbs. These are generally found in refined foods made with white flour and added sugars. These are easily digested by the body, but are thought to contribute to weight gain, as well as such conditions as diabetes and heart disease. They were also referred to as 'bad' because they provide empty calories; meaning they lack essential nutrients your body requires. Complex, or 'good' carbs, which are comprised of starch and dietary fiber, have important health benefits, such a guarding against heart disease. They also contain essential vitamins and nutrients. Whole grains are a great example of this type of carbohydrate.
More recently, the good carb/bad carb theory has been expanded to a glycemic index that classifies carbohydrates based on how they affect blood sugar. For example, white bread has a high glycemic index because it causes a rapid spike in blood sugar; whereas whole oats are classed as having low glycemic index as they are digested slowly, gently raise blood sugar, and leave you feeling fuller for longer. This is why oatmeal and porridge are great breakfast choices. However you prefer to think about carbs, the essential thing to know is that when looking to lose weight and achieve optimum health, you need to avoid sources that contain added sugars and instead choose fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and, of course, whole grains.
Why do we need carbs?
Our bodies break down carbohydrates to make glucose, which provides us with essential energy. The exception is fiber, which cannot be broken down, but passes through the body, helping to keep our digestive system working efficiently, as well as lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar. As such, carbohydrates are essential to maintaining our body’s functions and should not be omitted from a diet altogether. The important thing is to choose healthy sources. According to Licensed Prescriptions, carbohydrates found in whole grains provide an excellent source of energy and fiber, while also containing other essential nutrients, such as protein and B-vitamins. When losing weight, it’s also important not to feel as though you’re depriving yourself too much, as you’ll increase the chances of returning to bad eating habits. Cutting carbs may trigger cravings, as well as other side effects, such as headaches, low energy levels and lack of concentration. Therefore, the best advice is not to cut carbs out completely, but to select sources that are going to contribute to your health and weight loss goals.
Eating more ‘good carbs’
The good news is that it’s really easy to incorporate more healthy carbohydrate sources into your diet. By making simple substitutions and adding a few tasty extras, you can cut out the refined carbs and boost your weight loss chances with a natural, healthy diet that contains a wealth of essential nutrients. The first thing you can do is switch your sugar-laden supermarket cereal for a bowl of oatmeal each morning. You can add some fresh or dried fruit or a touch of honey for sweetness. Another simple substitution is to ditch the potatoes and use a whole grain alternative, such as quinoa, brown rice or bulgur wheat. You could also swap your white pasta for a whole grain option. Instead of a soda, mix yourself a fruit smoothie
with a handful of oats or barley thrown in, and for a treat, look to see if you can bake healthy alternatives to your shop-bought favorites by using whole wheat flour.
Overall, if you’re looking to shed pounds, it’s vitally important to be aware of what you’re eating at all times. Check labels for refined sugars and white flour, and always select the whole grain option when buying such things as bread. Losing weight is the ideal time to overhaul your diet, and a great start is to incorporate more whole grains. Not only will they provide slow-release energy and essential nutrients, but they are versatile enough to transform a short-term diet into a healthy new way of life.