Nowadays, carbs are typically the first to go when individuals are trying to lose weight. However, the idea that all carbs are bad and must be restricted is false. The recommendation is that 40-65% of your daily calories come from this macronutrient because it is vital to our overall health. Carbohydrates are your main source of energy. They fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and central nervous system. Fiber is one of my favorite carbohydrates because it signals a hormone called cholecystokinin that tells you your brain is full and it helps keeps regulate cholesterol metabolism.
1. Eat the right type of carbs (all carbohydrates are not created equal)
Many times we forget that carbs don’t only refer to cookies, cakes, bread, rice, and pasta. Fruits, veggies, and dairy also contain carbs and should be incorporated in a well-rounded diet. What makes these two different? The nutrition profile. Fruits, veggies, and dairy contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber, whereas refined grains, processed foods, soda, juice, etc. lack nutrients and are calorie-dense. Instead of eliminating carbohydrates entirely focus on eating less processed grains and more whole foods.
2. Realize that all carbs are not to be blamed for weight gain:
When it’s time to lose some weight, it’s natural to automatically draw up a plan to remove all traces of carbs from your diet. Carbs have been demonized big time in the United States as a precursor for weight gain however, despite the low carb diet trend there is more obesity than ever in the US. Extra sugar (simple carbohydrates) and calories in the diet are usually the culprit of weight gain.
Why is this assumption always made about carbs? Well, once a change has been made to the diet like cutting out refined carbs and sugar, there’s an initial decrease in weight. Carbohydrates hold twice as much water as protein so any time you eliminate carbs there will be an initial water flush, which results in a drop on the scale. Instead of focusing on quick weight loss it’s better to decrease simple carbohydrates and focus on healthy complex carbs.
3. Focus on how carbohydrates make you feel:
“I feel so good today, my mind is clear, I have so much energy, and my productivity is better than it’s been in a really long time.” That was a quote from one of my clients who started working with me after years of eliminating most carbohydrates. She would only eat food she felt were low carb such as low net carb shakes and wraps. When she started my 1:1 coaching program she was having a lot of cravings late at night. We worked together to start spreading her carbohydrates out throughout the day, practiced eating appropriate portions for her weight loss goals, and incorporated nutrient dense foods. Within a couple days she messaged me telling me how much better she was feeling and how her cravings in the evening had almost completely vanished. I encourage my clients to focus on how carbohydrates make them feel so they have a renewed appreciation for them.
4. Feel In Control When Eating Carbs
You may have heard about eating balanced meals in the past but you’re not really sure why it’s important. Keeping your food in balance by eating protein, fat, and carb, can not only help you feel full and satisfied quicker it will help prevent you from overeating. If you find that pasta night leads to consuming an entire box, a good question to ask is, were there veggies, protein, and fat at the meal alongside the carb? If not, there is some work to be done with balancing your meals.
5. Make a Plan for Carbs Ahead of Time
Making a plan at the beginning of each week will not only help you balance your carbohydrates throughout the day it will give you confidence in the carbs you decided to eat. I show my clients what an example week looks like with recipes so they can not only see the amount of carbohydrate grams they should consume for weight loss, they can also visually see what they should eat in a day. Being prepared will prevent you from overconsuming carbs.
6. Eating Carbs Pays Off In the Long Run
Eating carbohydrates consistently and in appropriate amounts will help regulate your metabolism and prevent binge eating later on. Earlier I mentioned that carbohydrates hold twice as much water as protein. Whenever carbs are restricted the enzymes that break down carbs are reduced, the pancreas is secreting less insulin, and the body is holding less water. Once carbs are reintroduced the body hasn’t forgotten how to process them but lacks the tools to break them down properly thus leading to fat storage and weight gain. It is important to keep carbs consistent in the diet for long-term weight management. If you are thinking about cutting back on carbs focus on reducing white bread and sugar and eating nutrient dense carbs like quinoa, brown rice, oats in moderation throughout the day.
Once you’ve practiced in these six areas you will see your confidence begin to turn around and you’ll have a renewed appreciation for carbohydrates! Not to mention there is nothing like living in total food freedom with no restrictions all while living at the weight of your dreams.
I help weight loss seekers, and health enthusiasts reach their step goals and manage their weight without having to do stressful workouts or restrict the foods they love.