Cutting back on carbohydrates became the way to lose weight in the nineties. The Atkins and South Beach diet plans started a phase of Americans thinking that carbohydrates were bad for them. The idea that carbohydrates are the worst thing you can eat has lessened, but some people remain leery of eating them. Is there any evidence that carbohydrates make you gain weight?
A carbohydrate is an organic compound made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbohydrates are foods that are high in starch, such as bread, or high in sugar, like candy. There are two categories of carbohydrates: good and bad. Good carbohydrates are vital to maintaining a healthy weight because they provide fiber and nutrients which boosts metabolism and helps you burn fat more efficiently. Bad carbohydrates will make you gain weight because they are empty calories with almost no nutritional benefits.
Why You Need Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are what your body uses to make energy for you to function. They also pump up your metabolism which makes you burn calories more efficiently. In fact, a higher metabolism means that you can burn calories while you are sleeping. Anything that can help you burn calories with little or no activity can only be a good thing. The catch is knowing which carbohydrates are and which are bad.
What Makes a Carbohydrate Good?
All carbohydrates are not created equal. Good carbohydrates are foods that are have not been through processing procedures. When white bread is made the process removes most of the nutrition by stripping away the bran and germ from the wheat. This leaves a product that causes your blood sugar to fluctuate which can stimulate weight gain. Good carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread (with the bran and germ intact), provide consistent energy without making your blood sugar spike. Studies show that fluctuating blood sugar packs on the pounds while a stable sugar level is linked to losing weight.
The glycemic index was developed by Dr. David Jenkins in the early eighties. The index measures the effect of carbohydrates on human blood sugar levels. It was originally designed to pinpoint the foods that were best for diabetics. It has since become the most accepted way of controlling carbohydrate consumption. The lower glycemic index level a food has, the less effect it has on blood sugar. Choosing lower glycemic index foods more often than high GI foods is a simple way to eat carbs without gaining weight. Making high GI foods an occasional treat is your best bet for healthy carbohydrate consumption.
Knowing the difference between good and bad carbohydrates is the key to eating carbs without gaining weight. Utilizing the glycemic index can help you identify the difference between the two. You can buy The New Glucose Revolution 3rd Edition at your local bookstore. Just remember that most baked goods and snack foods are bad carbohydrates and should be limited to prevent weight gain.
Limiting consumption of junk food (it’s called junk for a reason) and increasing your good carbohydrate intake will help you maintain a healthy weight. Good luck and “good” carbohydrate eating.