When it comes to weight loss, there is so much misleading information about carbs. If you’re trying to lose weight, do you need to cut out carbs? The short answer is NO, your body needs carbohydrates, but it’s a little more complicated than that. The real culprit is refined carbs, and they could not only be holding you back from losing weight, but also causing other health problems.
What are refined carbs?
To put it simply, refined carbs are basically anything processed.
There are two main types:
- Sugars: Refined/processed sugars, such as sucrose(table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, and agave syrup.
- Refined grains: Grains that have had the fibrous and nutritious parts removed, such as white flour made from refined wheat.
Refined carbs are empty calories
They are stripped of almost all fiber, vitamins, and minerals. What’s left is rapidly digested starch and small amounts of protein. Some manufacturers enrich their products with synthetic vitamins to make up for the loss of nutrients. Cereals, breads, and bars that say they are “high in fiber” are examples of this.
Why are refined carbs bad for you?
Refined carbs have been claimed to be linked to increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. My opinion of this is that it isn’t just refined carbs themselves that are increasing risk of these diseases, but how MUCH of them we eat and how balanced our overall diet and lifestyle is.
They cause blood sugar spikes & cravings
Foods high in refined carbohydrates have a high Glycemic Index and are digested quickly. This causes rapid spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. On top of this, your blood sugar will drop 1-2 hours after eating a meal high in refined carbs, which promotes hunger and stimulates parts of the brain that are associated with reward and craving. They won’t leave you feeling full for very long, so you’ll probably end up eating more.
Also, high consumption of refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels, which are the main symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
You’ll end up eating more
Since these carbs are quickly digestible and cause spikes in your blood sugar levels, afterwards they will you drained of energy and probably craving more of them. They don’t fill you up as well as more fiber-rich complex carbs so it’s easy to overeat, and all of the blood sugar spikes they cause can stimulate your appetite. Weight loss and weight gain is a lot about overall calories. If the calories you’re eating don’t satisfy you and fuel your body correctly, you’re going to need more of them. I mentioned this in my post 3 reasons you’re not losing weight.
Example: Last week I was really craving Dairy Queen so I got a small cookie dough blizzard. Later I looked on their website to find that it contained 710 calories. 710!!! I could have had 6 or 7 bananas for this same calorie amount, and I think it’s pretty clear that 7 bananas would fill me up more than a small ice cream treat would.
Bottom Line: Do you need to quit refined carbs cold turkey?
No, you don’t need to completely cut them out of your diet. It’s pretty hard to cut them out completely considering how much processed food we eat on a regular basis. But what you should do is limit your intake of these carbohydrates. Make sure you are eating lots of fiber and nutrition rich complex carbohydrates, and look at refined carbohydrates more as a treat. And really, the less you eat them, the less you will crave them. Your body does need carbohydrates, especially if you are trying to lose fat and increase or maintain lean muscle mass. Balance is key!
If you’re looking for a way to cut refined carbs but don’t know where to start, a couple “popular diets” to follow or use when searching for recipes are Whole30 and Paleo. Both of these diets focus on eating natural, whole food sources. Here are a couple of books I recommend to help you get started and a few of my other favorites:
Would a list of refined carbs to avoid and good complex carbs be helpful to you? If so, comment below and let me know if I should add one to this post! 🙂