The Conflict with Carbohydrates + How to Simplify Your Choices
You know what's so fun about nutrition and diets? That everyone has an opinion. No, wait, that's actually what sucks about it. Scientific research can be very conflicting. However, what you can do is pay attention to your body and choose whole, organic foods to sustain and nourish your body to start. Here are my suggestions for navigating your way through the low-carb conundrum many people have found themselves in.
I will keep my breakdown of fats, carbs, and proteins limited. Know this, all three of them are considered macronutrients and are very important to our bodies. They work differently in our bodies and you actually can live a vibrant, energetic life at a healthy weight without extreme dieting while consuming them. Their form and where they come from is what we really need to be focusing on.
What exactly is a carbohydrate? I am referencing Dr. Axe here for scientific definitions. A carbohydrate is one of the three macronutrients like protein and fat that we need in varying amounts to meet and sustain our metabolism and energy levels. When we consume carbohydrates, our digestive tract converts them into glucose. This glucose is then converted to a molecule that stores and releases energy as needed by the cells in our body.
It’s important to understand that we all respond differently to eating carbs. First and foremost is starting with healthy, complex carbs and then paying attention to what you feel is the right amount that works for your body. Carbs can be quite nourishing and beneficial for our health and performance. It’s all about emphasizing a mindset around the quality of your carbs over quantity that will ultimately make the difference for you. You’ll want to stick to good carbs such as buckwheat, sweet potatoes, quinoa, dates, bananas and more while avoiding processed, unhealthy, refined carbs like fruit drinks, white rice, and white flour.
Not all carbs are bad! When people say they are avoiding carbs to lose weight, what they usually mean is that they are limiting grains and processed foods, and are most likely still consuming carbs in other forms like dairy and fruits. Is avoiding all carbs necessary? Not really. Can you lose weight from reducing them? Maybe. Can you lose weight from making other lifestyle changes and knowing where your food is coming from? Absolutely.
Know that there is also a correlation between grains and carbohydrates. One can lose weight while still eating whole grains and fruits. It’s also possible to reduce processed carbohydrates and refined carbohydrates without “cutting all carbs.” Make sense? They are not all one in the same.
Focus on fresh, organic, whole fruits, vegetables and grains that make you feel full and satisfied. Create meals that are balanced with mostly vegetables and a protein source that is clean and lean. You do not have to avoid all carbs at all costs in order to lose weight. Doing so will probably make you rebound and crave them so much you'll want them even more, and end up eating more than you need. Balance is key.