Carbohydrates – from cakes, and breads to rice- They’re everywhere in our meals, and they often get a bad reputation when it comes to weight gain. One of the biggest nutrition misconceptions is that eating carbohydrates makes you fat. After all, haven’t celebrities, FAD diets, and influencers been sharing their low-carb weight-loss success stories for years? Let’s debunk some myths surrounding carbs!
But, believe it or not, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 45% to 65% of daily calories from carbs. Although those recommendations may seem high, there’s a good reason that you need so many carbs—they provide energy for everyday life. Plus, the reality is more complex as not all carbs are created equal. Some carb-rich foods are highly nutritious, while others may not offer much besides calories that burn up quickly. It’s time to set the record straight on carbs, once and for all.
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source. They help control blood glucose and insulin metabolism, provide fiber, fuel the brain, supply energy for daily activities and exercise, and play a role in cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism. Someone following a 2,000-calorie diet should aim for about 900 to 1,300 calories (or 225 to 325 grams) of carbohydrates per day. There are two types of Carbs -once you identify them and balance out portions, you can devour cakes while maintaining your weight!
Good Carbs: These are your friends. They’re found in foods like whole grains (think brown rice and oats), vegetables, and legumes (like beans and lentils). Good carbs are like the tortoise in the race – they give you energy that lasts, help you feel full, and don’t lead to overeating.
Bad Carbs: These are the sugary villains. Think candy, soda, and white bread. Bad carbs are like the hare – they give you a quick energy spike, but then you crash, get hungry again, and overeat.
Carbs alone don’t make you gain weight. It’s more about the type of carbs, portion sizes, and your overall calorie intake. So, don’t fear the pasta or potatoes – just make smart choices, watch your portions, and stay active. Here are some ways you can enjoy a balanced and healthy lifestyle!
Portion Size Matters:
Even good carbs can lead to weight gain if you eat too much of them, so follow portion control and balance your meals. Remember, your body stores extra calories from any type of food as fat. So, it’s not just about carbs; it’s about how much you eat.
Your Body’s Unique Story:
Everybody is different. Our bodies have their way of dealing with carbs. Some people can eat more carbs without gaining weight, while others may need to watch their carb intake. Your genes, activity level, and metabolism all play a part. Analyze your body, and make a diet plan accordingly.
It’s About Calories In vs. Calories Out:
Here’s the golden rule: If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight, no matter where those calories come from – carbs, fats, or proteins. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume.
Instead of fearing carbs, focus on balance. Include a mix of good carbs, healthy fats, and lean proteins in your meals. This helps you feel full, satisfied, and energized.
Moderation Is Key:
Enjoy your favorite carb-rich treats in moderation. A small serving of ice cream won’t ruin your progress, but a whole tub might.
Listen to Your Body:
Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. Don’t force yourself to finish a plate if you’re not hungry anymore.
Physical activity is your ally in the battle against weight gain. It helps you burn calories, build muscle, and stay healthy.