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The Importance of Carbohydrates in Your Diet

Many people believe that in order to lose weight they have to cut out all sugar, bread, pasta, and potatoes. Everything that contains carbohydrates.

We are here to put that myth to rest!

Carbohydrates are essential to our bodies and in this article, you can read what good carbohydrates does for your body, and what will happen if you stop eating carbohydrates.

    Also, read this article from Shape Up America to gain more knowledge on the subject.

     Download PDF

So first thing first..

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are one of the basic components of your diet, along with protein and fat. Carbs are glucoses that contain a large amount of carbon, as well as oxygen and hydrogen. They affect the body’s energy metabolism (which is the process of transforming nutrients into energy – e.g. absorption, synthesis and metabolism of glucose, fats, and protein), and thereby contribute to fuel for both body and mind.

So should you just eat whatever carbs you like?

Sadly no..

There are many different types of carbs, some are good and necessary for your body, and others are not necessary to keep your body functioning.

Refined sugar:

assorted sweets - refined carbohydrates

I’m guessing that most of us have heard that refined sugar is not good for your health. Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets that are processed to extract the sugar.

When you eat products with a lot of refined or processed sugar in them, your body gets a lot more energy than it needs. Food and beverages with a high level of white sugar often don’t have a lot of other nutrients.

Therefor you might eat a high calorie meal, but you will not get the nutrients your body needs to function.

If you need to use sugar, you could instead opt for a natural sugar.

Natural sugars include: Stevia, Xylitol, and Yacon Syrup

Fruit:

fruits in a bowl

If you, on the other hand, eat fruit, you will also get carbohydrates. But along with the carbs, you will also get dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and protein.

The body also metabolizes refined sugar and fruit sugar in different ways. The fiber in the fruit makes the metabolism work slower and thereby limits the impact on the blood sugar 1).

And if you are looking to lose weight fruits and berries also have the ability to satisfy your craving for sweets. You should therefor include fruits and berries in your daily diet.

You should, however, be aware that different fruit affects the blood sugar in different ways.

Ideally, try to eat more of the fruits that have the lowest affect on the blood sugar to keep it stable.

A good rule of thumb: The riper your fruit is the more it will affect your blood sugar!

Fruits that have a low affect on your blood sugar: Apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, and nectarines.

Vegetables:

Carrots filled with healthy carbs

Vegetables should make up the majority of the food we eat in a day. They are the source of many essential vitamins and minerals.

Many vegetables are also high in carbohydrates; among them are potatoes, beets, and sweet potatoes that all have a high level of starch, which is also a form of sugar.

Have you ever tried baking a sweet potato? You can actually see the sugar running from the sweet potato when you have them in the oven.

Baked or cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets all affect the blood sugar level greatly, but if you let the vegetables cool before eating them. The impact on the blood sugar level will decrease.

Bread, white pasta, and white rice:

Another source of carbohydrates are bread, white rice- and pasta. These foods don’t have many nutrients and you should limit the amount you eat. You can easily substitute for whole grain pasta, brown rice, or whole grain bread.

So what we learned so far?

.. Limit the amount of processed sugar. Include many vegetables in your diet and also add fruits and berries to your daily diet. Limit your intake of white rice, pasta, and bread – instead, substitute it for whole grain. 

Okay, now we know which carbes are good and what carbes we should limit our intake of. But what happens if we stop eating carbes all together?

What happens if you stop eating carbs?

plate with sad smiley face

If you completely stop eating carbs your body will eventually run out of carbohydrates, and instead, it will start to burn fat in order to get energy. This is called Ketosis and it is the reason why many people, who are trying to lose weight, stop eating carbohydrates.

Well, that sound kinda good doesn’t is?

Ketosis is a normal body function and it will naturally occur if you eat a balanced diet, and that is fine!

A part of the process in ketosis is making ketones. Ketones are chemicals (acid) that are made in you liver. The chemicals are then released into your blood stream.

People who are living on a ketogenic diet (high-fat low-carb) can actually start to smell a bit of acetone!

Diets that based on hight-fat/low-carb include Paleo and Atkins

If your body doesn’t get enough carbs you will likely experience*:

  • Low energy/Fatigue (42%)
  • Constipation (40%)
  • Headaches (37%)

More serious side effects may include*:

  • Increased cholesterol (25%)
  • Osteoporosis/bone loss (20%)
  • Gallstone (7%)

*Article in Shape Up America – Download full article here!

In very severe cases you can experience ketoacidosis, but it is very unlikely if you follow a healthy diet, even if it is low-carb! Most people who get ketoacidosis suffer from diabetes.

Ketoacidosis can cause coma or death, so it is very important that you see a doctor if you are experiencing any signs of diabetes.

Doctors sometimes recommend a ketogenic diet to treat children with epilepsy; you should always follow your doctor’s advice!

So, what is the right way to eat if you want to lose weight?

Best practice for weight loss:

Healthy diet

Sadly there is no quick fix for losing weight. It’s all hard work! But some tips to get you started:

  • Drink a lot of water
  • Cut refined sugar from your diet
  • Eat a lot of vegetables
  • Eat protein with every meal
  • Exercise – min. 30 minutes every day
  • Cut your portion sizes
  • Time restrict your eating
  • Eat fruits and berries every day
  • Drink black coffee or green tea
  • Stop eating white- bread, pasta, rice – Eat whole grain instead

Read more about the importance of exercise here!

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