Many Americans are cutting back on carbs and doing a low-carb diet. This is a smart strategy for cutting calories and helping to moderate blood sugar levels, but be careful not to cut back or eliminate ‘good’ carbohydrates. People often count carbohydrates on diet sites, such as fitday.com or sparkspeople.com as well as looking at the number on nutritional panel of packaged foods. Our bodies need good carbohydrates so keep them in your diet. Not only are good carbohydrates the body’s most immediate energy source, they get absorbed slowly into our systems thus avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels.
What is a good carbohydrate?
Good carbohydrates are unprocessed carbohydrates in their ‘natural’ state – or very close to their natural state. Green vegetables are the ultimate good carb foods and should not be eliminated, especially dark green leafy vegetables. They are my favorite and I recommend having at least 2 cups of dark green leafy vegetables each day if you are on a weight loss plan. Beans and legumes are also generally included on the good carbs list, as are many raw nuts and seeds. Also on the list are whole-grain foods such as whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas, however, when trying to lose a few pounds, it is best to keep grains to a minimum. These choices (even including whole-grain pasta, brown rice, and baked potatoes) are calorie-dense, easy to overeat, and known to elevate blood sugar.
What is a bad carbohydrate?
When doing a low-carb diet, or a healthier lifestyle, it is best to cut out or eliminate the ‘bad’ carbs. Bad carbs are refined, processed carbohydrate foods that have had all or most of their natural nutrients and fiber altered or removed. These include white breads, white sugars, white pastas, snack foods, candies, french fries, donuts, juices, and soft drinks, just to name a few.
If you are considering making your diet a more healthy, low-carb diet, cut back slowly. If your body is used to a large amount of bad carbohydrate foods, you may experience detox-type symptoms if you remove them all at once. This can include fatigue, moodiness and strong food cravings. Try completely omitting bad carbohydrates and starchy vegetables at dinner a few nights each week and work up to eliminating it every night first, then proceed to every meal. Build your meals with lean protein, and add a good portion of filling, fiber-rich vegetables.
Be bad carb-free for life!
Many who go on low-carb diets, and then go off their low-carb diet usually gain the weight right back. Our bodies will go into shock if we go without (bad) carbohydrates for a period of time and then reintroduce them. When our bodies are shocked, it almost always results in gains. It’s best to remove all processed foods and stick to healthier choices for life to maintain your weight and a healthy lifestyle.