8 Healthy Carbs For Weight Loss (Uncover Your Abs)

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When it’s time to begin a new diet and get back on the health train, what is the first thing you try to eliminate from your diet?

For most people, the answer would be carbs.

These little macronutrients get such a bad reputation.

What most people don’t know is that carbohydrates are our brain and blood cells’ primary source of fuel and nutrients.

They act as our muscle’s energy source during any physical activity.

Even though they are typically blamed for weight gain, carbs are actually crucial for healthy weight control.

It’s not carbs that are making you fat, it is the type of carbs you are consuming.

“Put down that Wonder Bread and pick up some whole grain REAL bread.” 🙂

THE TYPES OF CARBS

There are two types of carbs – complex carbs (fiber and starch) and simple carbs (sugar).

Complex carbohydrates contain one or two molecules of sugar while simple carbs contains thousands of molecules.

When sugars and starches are consumed, enzymes begin breaking them down until only one molecule of sugar is left.

This is known as a monosaccharide and is the only form of sugar that the digestive system can absorb. [1]

It then enters your cells where the sugar is converted into an energy source.

In addition to keeping you full and helping with digestion, healthy carbs have been shown to provide a number of other benefits including:

  • Promoting Heart Health [2]
  • Improving Mood [3]
  • Keeping Brain Healthy and Memory Strong [4]
  • Stimulating Fat Loss [5]
Good Versus Bad Carbs

Not all carbohydrates are created equal.

As mentioned above, there are complex and simple carbs, also known as whole and refined carbs.

Whole carbs are unprocessed and contain fibers, whereas refined carbs have been processed and typically all of the fiber has been removed.

It is true that your body will digest what it is given, regardless of its source.

This means that your body will use the glucose provided no matter if it came from a simple or a complex carb.

However, by pumping your body with simple carbs, you are just adding on empty calories without any nutritional value.

Because the body absorbs the glucose so quickly, it causes blood sugar spikes. Some simple carbs to AVOID are:

  • White Bread
  • Baked Goods
  • Potato Chips
  • Soda
  • Fried Foods
  • Processed Foods
  • Foods with “Added Sugars”
  • Refined White Grains
  • Sweetened Fruit Juices
  • Refined Breakfast Cereals
  • Candy
THE BEST HEALTHY CARBS FOR WEIGHT LOSS

Sweet Potato

Aside from being super delicious, sweet potatoes are high in fiber, B-vitamins and has over 300% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A.

There are a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients also in sweet potatoes. [6]

Whole Grains 

A lot can fall under this category. Rice, quinoa, millet, barley, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta… the list can go on for miles.

What’s important is that you are choosing whole grains over refined white flour options.

Whole grains provide vitamin B, minerals and lots of fiber.

They are slow digesting, which helps control blood sugar and they are satisfying, which helps control appetite and hunger!

Regularly eating whole grains has been found to be associated with lower BMI and less belly fat. [7]

Beans

Beans, beans, such magical vegetables.

You know the rest, right? Known for their high fiber content, beans are also an awesome protein source.

Being low in fat and cholesterol-free, they’re also a powerhouse staple for weight loss and health.

The best part is that they not only help take the weight off, but keep it off as well! [8]

Bananas

Bananas are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, manganese and vitamin C.

The natural sugars are also great for quick energy bursts, and probiotics support a healthy gut!

The pectin and resistant starches found in bananas help moderate blood sugar levels, reducing appetite and assisting with metabolism. [9]

Broccoli

Obviously, broccoli contains essential vitamins and minerals that are vital to overall health, but one, in particular, is sulforaphane, a phytonutrient that fights off body fat storage.  [10]

Berries

The darker, the better!

Since they are so low on the glycemic index and have a lot of heart healthy qualities, they are great at satisfying sweet tooth cravings without spiking blood sugar.

They can also add a ton of antioxidants into your diet and help reduce belly bloating.

Peas

Green peas are full of fiber, protein and zinc!

Great for keeping you full and the production of leptin, a hormone known to increase satiety. [11]

They may contain a little more sugar than non-starchy vegetables, but the anti-inflammatory properties seriously outweigh a few natural sugars.

Oats

Yes, there are a lot of carbs in oatmeal, but they are slow releasing fibrous carbs which will again, keep you fuller longer and give you sustained energy. [12]

They also contain beta-glucan which promotes the release of a hormone that is the gut’s response to eating.

This has been linked to reduced calorie intake and weight loss. [13]

When Is the Best Time to Eat Carbs?

Great question. It’s one that will have different responses from various trainers and health professionals.

Three of the most commonly agreed upon times to eat a carb-filled meal are morning, pre-workout and post-workout.

Morning

By consuming carbs earlier rather than later, your body is able to use them as fuel throughout the day which prevents them from being stored as fat within the body.

Carbohydrates also tend to cause water retention which can cause mild bloating.

So by burning them off throughout the day you are also burning off the bloat!

While your body sleeps, it fasts through all the carbs is consumed throughout the day so when you wake up your body uses the new carbs to replenish your reserve.

Pre-Workout

Carbs = energy. So, the more energy you have, the harder you’ll workout!

About 90 minutes prior to intense training, you should consume about 1 gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight, per hour of planned exercise.

Post-Workout

Similar to the idea of consuming carbs to replenish a fast, carbs after a workout will help with your glycogen storages and insulin distribution which aides in muscle repair and growth. [14]

No carbs mean no muscle recovery, slow metabolism and decreased energy. [15]

HEALTHY CARBS IS YOUR FRIEND

So, let’s end the stigma of “carbs are bad,” and recognize that carbs are our friends.

It’s just a matter of learning good versus bad carbs and how to properly fuel our bodies.

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Elyssa Duncan

Elyssa Duncan

Hi there, I’m Elyssa. Lover of healthy living, laughter and all things adventurous.