Carbs Are Not The Devil - Here's Why

Anyone who has struggled with their weight knows the scary connotation behind carbs. How many of us have avoided the pasta option on menus, skipped the bread and butter appetizer, and vowed never to buy rice again? Carbs have become the ugly sister of the nutrition world with little understanding of their importance. If you feel stagnant in your weight loss journey or get tired during your workout, chances are you've misjudged the macronutrient.

American diet culture is one of the most widespread practices in the U.S., with over half of Americans reporting trying to lose weight in 2020 (via Alex Andersen at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health). Because dieting has become a massive part of mainstream marketing, so have widespread nutritional beliefs and ideas. Foods like kale, avocados, and kombucha become trendy and glorified, while foods like bread, pasta, and crackers are vilified. Fad diets can, unfortunately, contribute to the misinformation around nutrition and what it means to eat a fully balanced meal. Carbohydrates, for example, are just one macronutrient that has been misjudged for decades. Here's why.

Carbs provide you with energy

Carbohydrates, protein, and fat all provide the body with energy (via WebMD). According to the American Heart Association, carbs, specifically, are broken down into sugar and absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can then be used as fuel and energy for the body. This energy conversion is vital because it helps support bodily functions and gives you vitality throughout the day. It is especially essential if exercise is part of your weight loss routine. In fact, you should make sure you have carbs before hitting the gym as part of your workout prep so that you don't crash and have the energy to power through the workout.

The key is to integrate complex, unprocessed carbs like whole-grain bread, fibrous fruits and vegetables, and legumes into your diet (via theĀ T.H. Chan at the Harvard School of Public Health). Processed or refined sugars like white bread, white rice, or sugary cereals can cause your blood sugar to spike, and they typically have no real nutritional value. However, starting your day with a complex carbohydrate can dramatically improve your energy throughout the day and can even help with weight loss.

Carbs actually help you lose weight

If you've plateaued on the scale and have been eating nothing but leafy greens and fruit, carbs could be a game-changer in your diet. Believe it or not, carbs burn belly fat more than other foods and encourage a faster metabolism (via Health.com). This is because carbohydrates high in resistant starch release fatty acids in the digestive system that boost fat loss, especially in the belly. So, if you're looking to blast fat, researchers suggest making 61% of your total calorie intake carbohydrates.

Again, the body responds best to natural, unprocessed carbs that are also unrefined. But, of course, you still want to avoid starchy, sugary bread and noodles. Instead, choose healthy carbs like quinoa, legumes, rye, and barley, instead of high sugar explosives like white rice. Experts at Medical News Today also suggest sweet potatoes, brown rice, mangoes, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans, amongst other complex carbs, to fuel the body. Integrating these vitamin-rich energizers can take your health journey to the next level while dropping the carbohydrate stigma.