Everyone is familiar with what carbohydrates in our diet are (and if not, read on!). We also know that eating less of them usually means we can lose weight. This is both true and not true. Why? Because it all depends upon what type of carbohydrates you’re eating on a daily basis. (CDC Guide to Nutrition/Carbohydrates)
There are two types of carbohydrates; simple and complex.
Simple carbs are those found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, and processed foods like white breads, cookies, pastries, etc. While the first three listed are in the “good for you” category, the last listed are not as they contain no nutritional value such a fiber, vitamins and minerals. Simple carbs are easy for the body to break down and they will be burned off first during activity such as exercise. If these types of carbohydrates are consumed in large quantities and the body is not actively involved in any form of exercise, the ‘energy” is stored in the muscles and liver as fat.
Complex carbs are starches and whole grains, dry beans, peas, and corn (also fats and proteins). Vegetables that are high in dietary fiber (and fruits) also fall into this category. The starch-containing carbs like beans, whole grain, peas, and corn are more difficult for the body to break down. They must go through the full gauntlet of digestion before they can be used as a (glucose) source of energy. Because the body has to work harder to break these complex carbs down, more calories are spent to do this. Therefore, it goes to show that replacing bad carbs with “good” carbs can help you lose weight before even hitting the gym.
Some good examples of replacing a ‘bad’ carb with a ‘good’ carb are as follows:
- Replace white breads with 100% whole wheat breads. The packaging must say 100% whole wheat – no white flour!
- Eat beans with lean protein instead of rice or bread.
- Replace regular pasta with either whole wheat/whole grain pasta or use thin-sliced zucchini as a pasta substitute. (Zucchini as pasta is delicious!)
- Eat a piece of raw fruit or snack raw vegetables instead of eating a cookie or slice of cake.
- Drink (or use for cooking) Almond Milk instead of regular milk. (I made this transition months ago and don’t miss regular milk at all!) Almond Milk tastes the same as 1% or Fat Free regular milk. Coconut Milk is also a great alternative for use in cereals and baking.
- Replace regular sugar with Truvia, Stevia, or Coconut Palm Sugar. The latter three are natural sources of sweetener with low glycemic index.
These simple replacements will turn into pounds lost. I’ve actually done all of the above (one at a time) until I’d submersed myself into a healthier lifestyle. Think of it as getting into the pool one step at a time, adjusting to the cooler temperature, until you’re able to dunk yourself completely under.
Remember that it’s okay to have that cookie or slice of cake now and then; just not daily! A little indulgence once every 4-5 days is okay.
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M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on Amazon.com . Ms. Gwynn also writes for National Animal Rights and San Antonio Sex & Relationships for quadrust.com. She contributes to Open Salon on Salon.com and FashionErotica Magazine NY.
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