There’s so much confusion around carbs and weight loss – should we eat them? When should we eat them? Which carbs are good or bad? But really it is quite simple.
What are carbohydrates or carbs?
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source. They give energy to our central nervous system, fuelling our brain and spine, as well as the muscles in our body. Inside our muscles carbohydrates are stored as glycogen which is used when we do any kind of exercise. When glycogen stores are depleted the body requires sugar to replenish it.
If you are trying to lose weight, the best time to eat carbohydrates is after you have exercised. This is when your body is screaming out for sugar and won’t store it as fat. On days when you are doing less exercise you may want to avoid eating quite so many carbohydrates.
You should try to start your day off with a carbohydrate-rich breakfast so you have time to burn it off throughout the day.
This said, it is important to know which type of carbohydrates you should be eating.
Simple vs complex carbohydrates
There are two forms of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The difference between the two are how quickly they get digested.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars that are digested quickly by the body. They are often added to food to give it a sweeter taste and occur naturally in fruits.
Many processed foods and cereals have sugar added to them but, aside from energy, these sugars have no nutritional value. Simple carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to spike and dip, leaving you feeling hungry. If you are wanting to lose weight, you should try to avoid simple carbohydrates as much as possible.
Complex carbohydrates are digested much slower by the body. Sources include oats, rice, quinoa and sweet potato. Complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to digest and so will leave you feeling fuller for longer. If you are wanting to lose weight try to start off your day with oats or rye bread, for lunch you can base your meal around sweet potato, rice or wholegrain pasta and then end the day with a light dinner.
If you keep relatively active and eat the right carbohydrates you shouldn’t have to deprive your body from essential nutrients to lose weight. You’ll feel fuller for longer and have plenty of energy to keep going all day.