“I’ve given up carbs”, is the first thing anyone and everyone who’s on a weight loss journey will tell you. Trendy diets, food products that do more harm than good and incomplete information about nutrition can lead you down the wrong path. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body. They help in the healthy functioning of the brain, kidneys, muscles and maintaining overall health. When you deprive your body of carbs, you might suffer from headaches, fatigue and weakness. You can lose weight, get healthier and stronger, and feel better, all while still eating carbs. The key is having the right knowledge about the types of carbs, how and when to consume them and guidelines from an actual expert.
Carbohydrates: The Groups
1. Simple Carbohydrates
These are basically sugars. You’ll find these naturally in fruits and vegetables but also in refined grains and processed foods through “added sugar.” Because they are simple and refined, simple carbs burn up fast, spiking your blood sugar and causing it to crash. This can leave you with a craving for more carbs and can also lead to weight gain long term. Read the shocking benefits of jowar vs wheat here.
2. Complex Carbohydrates
They are made up of long chains of sugar molecules. These carbohydrates keep you full for longer because they take more time for your body to digest and break down for energy.
3. Dietary Fibre
It is a long chain of sugar molecules, just like complex carbs, but it’s indigestible. This means that your body can’t break it down to use for energy. Instead, dietary fibre helps provide bulk to keep your digestive system running as well as help you to feel full. You’ll often find fibre in the same foods that contain complex carbs.
Healthy carbs like complex carbs and dietary fibre will take longer for your body to break down compared to simple carbs. This means you’ll spend more energy-burning these than simple sugars, which results in weight loss rather than weight gain.
How To Include Carbs Into Your Weight Loss Journey
The best way to tailor and alter your diet to make it nutritious while trying to achieve your fitness goals is to ask an expert. TC46 connected with Clinical Dietitian Shweta Mahadik of Fortis Hospital, Mumbai to know how carbs can be good for weight loss. Here, she shares carb-rich foods to consume, tasty recipes that are full of good carbs and vital tips.
1. You should include carbs in your diet irrespective of diet goals
Carbohydrates (carbs) are one of the main types of macronutrients and the one needed in the largest amount by the body, 45% to 65% of calories should come from carbs. The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy, as they are the body’s main source of fuel, needed for physical activity, brain function and operation of the organs. All the cells and tissues in your body need carbs, and they are also important for intestinal health and waste elimination. Carbohydrates are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. The heart, brain, kidneys, and muscles, all need carbohydrates to function. Excess carbohydrates can be stored in the liver and muscles for later use after being converted into glycogen.
2. Carbs are a good source of fibre for weight control
Fibre has many health benefits, such as the proper functioning of the digestive system. The fibre content in high-carbohydrate foods can also aid in weight control and healthy weight loss. It is therefore recommended to include whole grains like wheat & jowar in your diet. Know the nutritional content in jowar v/s wheat here.
3. Carbohydrates are divided into two groups
Simple and complex. Simple carbs, also called simple sugars, include fruits and refined sugars. Whole grain products such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, beans, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole-grain corn, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
4. Effects of cutting out carbs completely can be drastic
Cutting out refined grains, whole grains, or carbs in general, the effects can vary widely. Here’s a look at the wide array of things that happen when you give up carbs are as follows:
Fatigue: Carbs are such an important source of energy for the body, eating too few carbs can really drag you down. Drastically cutting carbs can lead to fatigue, weakness and even dizziness. Feeling tired from an insufficient carb intake means less energy to be physically active.
Constipation: Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that aids in gastrointestinal health and helps prevent constipation. Eating too few carbs means you’re likely not meeting your daily fibre requirements, which increases the risk of constipation.
Mood Swings: Dietary carbohydrate exclusion causes the brain to stop regulating the serotonin hormone. Low serotonin supply causes mood swings and depression.
Weakened Immune System: With increased fluid loss and degradation, vitamin C loss from the body is increased. Adding to this, the chronically dehydrated condition leads to a weakened immune system and susceptibility to infections.
Loss Of Sodium: Excess of ketone in the blood leads to fluid loss and excretion of sodium ions (Na+) from the body. This may lead to muscle cramps, exhaustion, and lassitude.
Muscle Wasting: As the fat reserves and amino acids are getting used up for energy production, there will be a general loss of muscle mass and impairment of growth.
Unhealthy Weight Loss: The loss of fat and muscle mass leads to emaciation and weight loss.
Triggers Micronutrient Deficiencies: Due to the restriction of carbohydrates, micronutrient deficiencies can result. To prevent this from happening, you should focus on taking high-quality multivitamin/mineral supplements twice every day.
5. Top 5 carbs-rich foods to include in your diet
1. Cereals & Cereal Products: The most familiar grains used for making the category of cereals include Brown Rice, Maize, Corn, Ragi, Bajra, Barley, Sorghum, Italian millets, and Oats. Cereals have provided unlimited health benefits as a staple food in our diet. Cereals are rich in complex carbohydrates that provide you with ample energy and help to prevent cancer, constipation, colon disorders, and high blood sugar levels. They also enrich your overall health with abundant proteins, fats, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Cereals are enriched with Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin, and Thiamine, and most cereals have abundant fibre contents, especially Barley, Oats, and Wheat.
2. Dal & Legumes: Dal and legumes are affordable healthy complex carbohydrate sources high in proteins, offering plenty of essential nutrient benefits to health. For vegetarians, it is a good protein source.
- Dal and legumes supply vitamin B, Zinc, Folate, Sodium, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorous, and Magnesium
- Soluble fibres in it help to prevent constipation and help in weight loss
- Helps in stabilizes blood sugar level, also reduces cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fibre
- Helps in reducing the risk of heart disease. Folate and magnesium are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers the homocysteine level, a serious risk factor for heart disease
- Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium are directly associated with heart disease
3. Vegetables & Fruits: Eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables has been linked to improved health and for good reason. Veggies and fruits are loaded with complex carbs as well as vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants, which help in weight loss. Some studies also found that it protects against chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
5 Ways To Make The Best Use Of These 5 Carbs Food For Weight Loss
1. Sprouted Pulses Chaat
Sprouts contain a good amount of protein and other nutrients like Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Phytochemicals, and antioxidants. It strengthens the immune system, boosts your blood supply and is good for hair as it contains micronutrients like Zinc, Folic acid, Riboflavin, Copper, and Magnesium.
Sprouts can be steamed quickly in a small amount of water or they can be immersed in boiling water for 2 minutes. This will minimize nutrient loss and aid in fast digestion. They can be enjoyed as sprouts salad, sprouts veg sandwich, usal, amti, sprouts bhel, sprouts soup and more.
2. Multigrain Flakes
It is a mixture of oats, wheat flakes, cornflakes, barley, ragi, puffed rice, puffed jowar, rice flakes, puffed bajra. An ideal snack for munching in between meals. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients including fibre, B complex vitamins, antioxidants and minerals like Zinc, Copper and Magnesium. This can be enjoyed with milk.
3. Fruit Salad
You can include a variety of seasonal fruits in your diet. Eating fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and hypertension. Fruits are rich in antioxidants that boost immunity and are rich in dietary fibres, Vitamin C, Potassium and Folate. This colourful fruit salad can be an addition to your breakfast or a delicious snack in the afternoon or evening. Sweets can be replaced with mixed fruit salad. You can use toppings like ½ teaspoon honey, curd (dahi) and fresh low-fat cream.
Oats is a cereal, commonly eaten for breakfast. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Good for weight loss and lowering cholesterol and maintaining blood glucose in diabetics. Oats are rich in protein, fibres, important vitamins and minerals. Many varieties can be prepared from oats like oats porridge, uthappa, upma, dosa, idli, muffins, granola bars, and cookies. You can even have oats vegetable khichdi in any of your meals. Oats can be taken with milk, dahi, or chutney.
Nuts are considered heart-healthy snacks. They are rich in protein, unsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E & Fibre. It helps in improving HDL (good) cholesterol. The only concern while eating nuts is they are high in calories hence it is important to limit the portion size. It is recommended to have a handful of nuts a day. Healthy nuts include Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Figs, Apricot and black Dates (2 pc), black Raisins (10-15 no), Hazelnut and more.
Top Tips For Consuming Carbs While Trying To Lose Weight
- Curb your intake of sugar and sweetened drinks like Cola, Pepsi, Sprite. Choose lemon juice, jeera water, kokum juice, amla juice.
- Cut back on refined grain bread, and bakery products like cakes, pastries, sweets, biscuits, bread, butter, toast and khari.
- Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice as juices contain little to no fibre. It is usually high in fructose, a form of fruit sugar that is also considered a simple carb.
- Choose lower-carb snacks. Avoid processed food like wafers, chips, sweets, sev, farsan as they give empty calories. Instead of this, consume puffed jowar, puffed bajra, kurmura, makhana, and a handful of dry fruits as it gives a feeling of satiety.