Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, as well as fuel for vital organs, such as the kidneys, central nervous system, and brain. Healthful carbs, such as so-called complex carbs, are necessary for the body to work optimally.
Carbohydrates are broken down into a simple form of energy called glucose. The body uses insulin to carry the glucose into the cells. When too many carbohydrates are consumed, the blood sugar level spikes, insulin rises, and the result of this is often weight gain.
In this article, we take a look at how many carbs someone needs to eat to lose weight, and whether or not a low-carb diet is healthful? We also examine the best and worst sources of carbohydrates to eat.
What is a low-carb diet?
Low-carb diets restrict the number of calories a person gets by limiting their carbohydrate food sources. This includes both good and bad carbs. Low-carb diets tend to be higher in proteins and fats to compensate.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. If this supply is reduced, the body burns its stores of protein and fat for fuel.
Low-carb diets, such as the Atkins diet and the Dukan diet, have been found to lead to rapid weight loss. However, these diets are extreme and can have some unwanted side effects.
For most people, it may be healthier to take a more moderate approach when reducing carbohydrate intake to help lose weight.
Good carbs are complex carbohydrates, which means they are high in fiber and nutrients and take longer to break down. As they take longer to break down, they do not cause blood sugar levels to spike or rise too high.
Examples of good carbs include:
- whole fruit with the skin on
- whole grains
- high-fiber vegetables, such as sweet potatoes
- high-fiber beans and legumes
Bad carbs are simple carbohydrates that are easily broken down and quickly cause blood sugar levels to spike.
Examples of bad carbs include:
- white sugar, bread, pasta, and flour
- sugary drinks and juices
- cakes, candy, and cookies
- other processed foods
Eating carbohydrates in their natural, high-fiber form is healthful. Processed foods that are high in white sugar and refined carbohydrates may lead to weight gain.
When counting calories from carbohydrates, ideal weight control can be obtained by observing a healthy ratio of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthful fats.
According to the U.S. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the best way to lose weight is through a combination of dieting, exercising, and changing behavior or lifestyle. Registered dietitians can provide advice to anyone wishing to make changes to help them lose weight.
Anyone who is thinking of reducing their carb consumption and eating more protein and fat should monitor their saturated fat intake. Too much of this can increase cholesterol levels, as well as the risk of heart disease.
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