Why carbs are not your enemy
Thanks to diet culture, for a very long time it was believed that too many carbs were responsible for weight gain, and that cutting carbs was the key to weight loss. However, research and experts have repeatedly debunked all the misinformation being spread about carbohydrates, including weight gain, which is caused by excessive calorie consumption, among other factors.
In fact, carbohydrates are one of the main macronutrients we should all be eating. There are two different types of carbohydrates: complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber and are found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Meanwhile, simple carbs are found in refined sugars and starches that have been stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients like cookies, sodas, and baked goods. Simple carbs have low nutritional value, and while they’re fine to eat, it’s generally recommended that you limit them in your diet.
Despite this, carbohydrates provide many benefits that you may be depriving yourself of if you eliminate them from your diet. There are many helpful reasons why you should add more carbs to your diet. Discover the many benefits of eating carbs and be sure to fill up on your favorite types.
See more: 8 muscle-building foods to gain lean muscle
Carbohydrates give you energy
When you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into glucose, which is then used by cells as their main source of energy. This gives you the boost of energy you need to perform daily tasks like exercise, for example. Without carbs, you would feel exhausted and lack the energy to get through a Crossfit class or a long run. Once the body uses the adequate glucose it needs from carbohydrates, the rest is broken down into glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles.
Carbohydrates provide essential vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients and are necessary for maintaining good health. Carbohydrates provide essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins and more. These also function as antioxidants, which are needed to protect you against heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. The best way to get many of these essential vitamins and nutrients is to eat a balanced diet with carbohydrates to help support your system. If you think you’re lacking in a specific nutrient, it’s best to talk to your doctor, who can perform the appropriate tests and recommend the right foods and supplements.
Carbohydrates keep you regular
If you suffer from constipation, you may be lacking insoluble or soluble fiber in your diet. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and can be found in whole grains, brown rice, oats, nuts, and fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and helps slow digestion and is known to help prevent certain diseases. Fiber is the key to keeping your bowel movements regular every day. A good way to add fiber to your diet is to eat more complex carbohydrates.
Fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes. Complex carbohydrates are digested slowly compared to simple carbohydrates. The body cannot digest fiber; therefore, it is slow to break down and keeps you full longer. They are also less likely to cause your blood sugar levels to rise, which is important if you have diabetes and need to monitor your blood sugar.
See more: Reduce carbohydrates? A dietitian explains 6 reasons why you shouldn’t
Carbohydrates help brain function
Carbohydrates allow your brain to function efficiently. The brain uses 20% of the total body energy burned daily. You’ve probably noticed the days when you’ve barely eaten carbs that you experience brain fog, mood swings, and exhaustion. This is because the brain relies on carbohydrates as its primary fuel source. Research shows that complex carbohydrates help the brain to age healthily and improve short- and long-term memory. In addition, school-aged children are recommended to eat breakfasts high in carbohydrates to help their cognitive function. Fueling your body with healthy carbs or complex carbs is important for your brain to function well and for long-term energy.
Carbohydrates help build muscle
If one of your goals is to build muscle or you’re focused on body recomposition, carbs can help you achieve that. While protein is one of the main macronutrients you should be eating to build muscle, carbs can make or break your performance in the gym. As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates that are not used for immediate energy are turned into glycogen. This glycogen is stored in your muscles and provides the energy needed to lift heavier or run further.
A lack of carbs can make you feel exhausted and weak when you exercise. Athletes like marathon runners or weightlifters aim to maximize muscle glycogen stores by loading up on carbs before a big event for this reason. Carbs also help with recovery and muscle repair after a workout, so it’s important to make sure your post-workout meal includes carbs and protein.
For more helpful information on nutrition and improving your health, check out our stories about tips to reduce your risk of heart disease and best and worst foods for high blood pressure.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
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