We've all heard it before, especially after the Super Bowl ... when just about everyone starts thinking about getting in shape before the warmer weather shows up.
“Just cut out carbs ... you’ll lose plenty of weight.”
“Don’t eat carbs, that’s how you gain weight!”
"Carbs are the devil and they make you fat!"
Well, I’m going to start this off by saying...
NOBODY LOSES WEIGHT BECAUSE THEY STOP EATING CARBS!
Yep ... you read that right. You're probably thinking I'm crazy right about now, but let me explain.
There's no doubt you have friends or family that told you they lost weight because they cut out carbs ... well I'm here to tell you that's not why they lost weight at all.
They lost weight because they cut out FOOD ... which in turn, means they cut out calories. It actually has nothing to do with the carbs themselves ... and everything to do with cutting out food/calories from their normal routine. They ate less ... simple as that. They just chose to eat less carbs.
In fact, you can lose a lot of weight & enjoy many different types of carbohydrates while you do it ... I'd even go as far as saying you could lose weight eating ONLY carbs. I wouldn't do that because protein is essential for making sure you build & hold onto muscle during weight loss ... but hopefully you understand what I mean.
Carbohydrates actually have a ton of different health benefits, including:
Providing Energy - Carbs are our body's main energy source. When you cut them out ... you may start feeling tired, groggy, lethargic, and have a hard time even getting up in the morning. This is because you just took away one of your body's main sources of energy! We need that energy so much, that even if we don't give our body's enough carbs ... it will take other nutrients (like protein) and convert them into carbs for energy. You don't want that, it's not what protein is for ... so it's better just to give your body the fuel it needs to function at your best.
Lowering Risk Of Disease - There's actually studies showing that those who do eat HEALTHY carbohydrates actually have a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes ... and heart disease. This is according to the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine & The American Dietetic Association. There's even been comparisons done between 2 group trying to lose weight ... where the group who ate MORE CARBOHYDRATES actually ended up losing more weight. Yes ... carbs can actually help you lose weight! Might I add both groups actually ate the same amount of calories. This is most likely due to the fact that those who ate more carbs had more energy ... therefore they moved more & burned more calories.
Fiber - Yes ... fiber is a carbohydrate. Fiber itself also provides very important health benefits, including:
-Normalizing digestion & bowel movements
-Lowering cholesterol levels
-Lowering the risk of disease/cancer
-Regulating blood sugar
-Helping with weight management
...and your fiber intake may have also have a direct link to you living a longer, healthier life overall.
Boosting Your Mood - Your brain uses carbs for energy ... and when it's not getting enough, you'll notice. Brain fog, trouble concentrating ... and a poor overall mood can be a result of not eating enough carbs. I know this is one of the first things I notice personally if I'm too low on my carb intake.
Fighting Off Stress - Carbs can actually play a role in lowering your cortisol levels ... which is your stress hormone. This is especially true when taking in carbs after a workout ... which is an important part of seeing the best results with your training. Carbs also replenish the energy in your muscle tissue that your deplete during exercise. Without replenishing that energy ... recovery, muscle building, and fat loss will all be hindered.
Most research shows carbohydrates as being almost necessary for healthy bodily function. As I stated earlier, carbohydrates are your body’s main (and preferred) source of energy ... and your body needs energy to do just about everything. Carbohydrates before bed can even help you sleep ... and I'm sure you've been told to not eat any carbs before bed. That's also a big ole' myth!
The most recent Dietary Recommendations state that we should try to shoot for obtaining about 45-65% of our caloric needs via carbohydrates … and that alone shows their importance!
Now, when it comes to weight gain ... remember that's exclusively due to overeating.
You can over eat ANY food group and gain weight.
Carbohydrates usually get a bad reputation because sugar is grouped in with carbs. Sugar is not inherently bad either, but it's easy to overeat because let's be honest ... it tastes good. Just know it's not the sugar itself causing the issues.
So remember, it's not the carbs that are making you gain ... it’s the overconsumption of total calories! PERIOD.
Moral of the story … don't be afraid to eat carbs! Your body prefers them, your brain needs them ... and you will be far more likely to stick to your diet because you're enjoying the foods you eat!
Remember … the most important aspect of fat loss is your calorie intake, not your carb intake! You can over do any type of food & it can lead to unwanted weight gain! So just stay balanced ... and follow a plan you can enjoy & stick to.
Adherence is the key to diet success. The best diet is always the one you can stick to.
So if you're struggling to find a meal plan you can be consistent with ... drop into your local Supplement Superstore location & speak with our Certified Sports Nutrition Specialists. It would be our pleasure to customize a plan that personally fits your lifestyle and goals!
**This article was written by Andrew Lynn. Andrew is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist and has a B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics.