What Are Carbohydrates And Why Do Some People Try To Limit Carbs In Their Diet?
Posted Mar 25 2010 6:18am
This is a guest post by Janette, a weight loss industry professional.
When people think of carbs, they often immediately think of cake, bread or pasta. And most of us know that these foods can be fattening. Therefore, people think that if they cut out carbohydrates, they will lose weight. But the truth is that carbohydrates are one of the three major nutrients found in our diet (along with protein and fat) and we need them to stay healthy. So, what many people don’t realize is if they eliminate carbs from their diet, they are depriving their body of a vital energy source.
The wild popularity of the Atkins, South Beach, and other low-carbohydrate weight loss programs led many Americans to believe that carbohydrates are the source of unflattering flab, but that's an oversimplification. Easily digested carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods can certainly contribute to weight gain and interfere with weight loss; however, whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and other sources of intact carbohydrates can do just the opposite.
Therefore, it’s important for people to educate themselves about carbohydrates…and the most important item to remember is that calories are fattening, not carbs. In fact, each carbohydrate contains only four calories per gram of food which is the exact same calories as a gram of protein. Normally, our bodies do not store the carbohydrates we eat because we use them quickly. Instead, the body converts proteins and fats into carbohydrates, which are then stored as fat. People always wonder why they feel worse when they completely cut out all carbs. Strictly limiting or cutting carbohydrates is likely to cause sluggishness and fatigue because the body does not have the quick energy source it needs. Therefore, to lose weight, there are some carbohydrates you need to limit but, to stay healthy and feel energetic, there are some you need to keep in your diet.
There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, such as the ones found in candy, fruits and baked goods. Complex carbohydrates are starches found in beans, nuts, vegetables and whole grains. A good basic rule is to focus on fruits and vegetables as your main source of carbohydrates and limit the starchy or sugary carbs that have little or no food value. In addition, stay away from carbs that are combined with white sugar and/or fat and avoid processed carbohydrates such as grains whose high-fiber shells have been stripped away (like white flour or white rice).
Basically, if you’re concerned about carbohydrates in your diet, the bottom line is rooted in common sense: Carbohydrates aren’t something to avoid, but they’re also something not to over indulge in. By balancing your carbohydrate intake, you won’t have to worry yourself about the ongoing debate over carbohydrates and, more importantly, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy diet.
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