Carbohydrates often get a bad rap as a food to eat when you’re trying to lose weight. The Atkins Diet recommends cutting them altogether, and other weight loss plans also limit their intake. But is giving up carbs really necessary to successfully shed excess pounds?From a medical standpoint, a person’s weight loss will likely be the same whether he or she is eating lots of carbs, low carbs, or no carbs, since what really leads to weight loss is consuming fewer calories than you expend. That said, people who eat a lot of processed carbs may end up feeling hungrier later on because they lack enough fiber to really fill you up. This may lead to overeating, making it harder to cut calories and stick with a weight loss plan. In particular, those who are diabetic or insulin-resistant, or have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may find their hunger increases if they consume high-carbohydrate diets. See how The Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL) can help you figure out the healthy eating plan that suits you best.
Refined Carbs and the Glycemic Index
Refined, or processed, carbs are grains that have had their bran (the outermost layer of the seed) and germ (the part of the seed where a new plant sprouts) removed, reducing their fiber and nutrient levels. These carbs include white rice and anything made with white flour, like breads and cereals.Refined carbs also have a high glycemic index, meaning they raise blood glucose levels more than foods with a low glycemic index, so more insulin is needed in the body to digest the sugars. Eating too many high-glycemic foods can increase your chances of developing diabetes, which is linked to coronary artery disease and other conditions.
Could You Be Insulin-Resistant?
Here’s an easy test you can try to see whether you might sensitive to eating refined carbs. One morning, eat two medium eggs, cooked any way you’d like, with a slice of light cheese. The next morning, eat an English muffin or small bagel with jelly. Try to make sure that the total number of calories consumed is similar the two test days. On each day, record what time you ate and what time you started to feel hungry.If you felt hungrier on the first day, when you consumed protein and fat, you may be fine eating some refined carbs as long as you watch your overall calories. However, if you felt hungrier on the second day, there’s a good chance you may be insulin-resistant and will probably do better on a weight loss plan if you cut back on the refined carbs. Why? Eating refined carbs for breakfast tends to lower your blood sugar a couple of hours later, causing you to feel hungry, while eating foods with a lower glycemic index staves off hunger longer.
Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains
Whether you’re insulin-resistant or not, what’s a carb-lover who wants to lose weight to do? One solution is to incorporate more whole grain carbs, such as brown rice and whole-grain bread, into your diet. Whole grains have their bran and germ intact, which makes them a good source of fiber and can keep you feeling fuller longer. Plus a recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine comparing brown rice vs. white rice consumption showed that study participants who ate white rice had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.The bottom line? If you love pasta, try the whole-wheat version. If you’re a fan of bread, try the whole wheat, pumpernickel, or rye versions. Instead of white rice, opt for brown. A good rule of thumb: Ask if the food was in existence 200 years ago. Since the process of refining carbs didn’t exist till the 20th century, only anything that’s not refined will fit the bill.
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