Complex carbs are the ones that give your body the best fuel. They are usually found in foods high in fiber, which break down more slowly, giving you a steady blood sugar level through the day and making you feel less hungry and irritable when mid-afternoon rolls around. It is also recommended to consume complex before a workout. It’s a great idea to get more of these carbs into your daily diet:
• Fresh fruit, ideally those with a low glycemic Index like apricots, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries
• Non-starchy vegetables
• Whole grains and foods made from whole grains, such as certain types of bread and cereal and pasta
• Brown Rice
• Dairy products that are not sweetened with sugar, such as yogurt, sour cream, cheese and milk
Your body quickly breaks down simple carbs, giving your blood sugar a spike and sending you running back to the kitchen or snack machine within hours of your last fix. Unless you’re an athlete or need a sudden rush of energy for some reason, it’s usually best to avoid these carbs in your daily diet:
• Refined grains like white bread, white rice and enriched pasta
• Processed foods such as cake, candy cookies and chips
• White potatoes
• Sweetened soft drinks
• White Sugar
How to Figure Out Your Need for Carbohydrates
There is no clear definition of exactly what constitutes a “low carb diet” and what is “low” for one person may not be “low” for the next.
An individual’s optimal carb intake depends on age, gender, body composition, activity levels, personal preference, food culture and current metabolic health.
People who are physically active and have more muscle mass can tolerate a lot more carbs than people who are sedentary. This particularly applies for those who do a lot of high intensity, anaerobic work like lifting weights or sprinting.
Metabolic health is also a very important factor. When people get the metabolic syndrome, become obese or get type II diabetes, the rules change.
People who fall into this category can’t tolerate the same amount of carbs as those who are healthy. Some scientists even refer to these problems as “carbohydrate intolerance.”
The optimal carb range varies between individuals, depending on activity levels, current metabolic health and a bunch of other factors.
Guidelines That Work 90% Of The Time
According to GroupHealth.com, between 50 and 60 percent of the calories a person consumes each day should come from carbohydrates. However, that doesn’t mean that the carbs you’ll find in candy, cookies and other highly processed foods are the same as those in vegetables and whole grains. It basically breaks down into simple carbs being “bad” and complex carbs being “good.” Complex and simple are terms that deal with how food is broken down into energy (sugar) in the body.
How much carbs should I be eating?
100-150 Grams Per Day
This is more of a “moderate” carbohydrate intake. It is very appropriate for people who are lean, active and simply trying to stay healthy and maintain their weight.
It is very possible to lose weight at this (and any) carb intake, but it may require you to count calories and/or control portions.
50-100 Grams Per Day
This range is great if you want to lose weight effortlessly while allowing for a bit of carbs in the diet. It is also a great maintenance range for people who are carb sensitive.
Important to experiment
We are all unique and what works for one person may not for the next. It is important to do some self-experimentation and figure out what works for you.
If you have a medical condition then make sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes, because this diet can drastically reduce your need for medication!
Why Low Carb Diets May Work For You
Low-carb diets greatly reduce your blood levels of insulin, a hormone that brings the glucose (from the carbs) into cells.
One of the functions of insulin is to store fat. Many experts believe that the reason low-carb diets work so well, is that they reduce your levels of this hormone.
Another thing that insulin does is to tell the kidneys to hoard sodium. This is the reason high-carb diets can cause excess water retention.
When you reduce or limit bad carbs, you reduce insulin and your kidneys start shedding excess water.
It is common for people to lose a lot of water weight in the first few days on a low-carb diet, up to 5-10 pounds.
Weight loss will slow down after the first week, but this time the fat will be coming from your fat stores.
Studies also show that low-carb diets are particularly effective at reducing the fat in your abdominal cavity (belly fat), which is the most dangerous fat of all and highly associated with many diseases.
If you’re new to low-carb eating, you will probably need to go through an adaptation phase where your body is getting used to burning fat instead of carbs.
This is called the “low-carb flu” and is usually over within a few days. After this initial phase is over, many people report having more energy than before, with no “afternoon dips” in energy that are common on high-carb diets.
Adding more fat and sodium to your diet can help with this.
It is common to feel suboptimal in the first few days of lowering your carb intake. However, most people feel excellent after this initial adaptation phase.