In an effort to lose weight, many people give up carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, rice, beans, and sugar loaded foods. Many people who do this will lose weight at first, but then they get cravings that often lead to binge eating. Sugar and starch contained in carbohydrates are the body’s energy source. They are a necessary part of a well balanced diet. People who do not eat enough carbohydrates are likely to exhibit fatigue, irritability, and constipation. Heart disease and colon cancer could be long-term risks of low carbohydrate diets.
It is possible to lose weight and still eat carbohydrates. The trick is to consume good carbohydrates instead of bad carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates, which include refined, low fiber foods such as most crackers, white bread, and foods loaded with sugar, are digested quickly causing blood sugar levels to rise suddenly and then fall, leaving the consumer with an unsatisfied feeling.
Usually the more natural and unrefined a carbohydrate, the healthier it is. Good carbohydrates, such as whole grains and high fiber foods, digest slowly as they supply energy over a longer time and help suppress cravings. Brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, barley, beans, and bran cereals are examples of good carbohydrates. According to research in the United Kingdom at the University of Surrey, the average woman who ate a meal of good carbohydrates, felt less hungry the next day resulting in her eating 150-200 fewer calories. Good carbohydrates speed up the body’s metabolism, release fatty acids that encourage fat burning, and preserve muscle mass.
Another study done at Harvard involved 74,000 female nurses. They found that over a twelve-year period, the nurses who ate foods with the most whole grains weighed less than the nurses who ate the least whole grains. Other researchers have shown that people who have the best chance of losing weight and staying slim are those who get 64% of their daily calories from good carbohydrates.
Our brains use carbohydrates to make serotonin. Serotonin acts as an appetite suppressant and makes people feel better. More serotonin is needed later in the day so it is advantageous to eat more carbohydrates in the afternoon and evening rather than early morning. Experts recommend at least 130 grams of carbohydrates every day.
Carbohydrates alone will not lead to long-term weight loss. A diet incorporating whole grain high fiber foods along with exercise and a healthy lifestyle is the best system of weight control.