The biggest misconception of all time is that carbohydrates make you fat. They don’t. Consuming large quantities of any kind of food leads to gaining weight. What’s important is that you must choose your carbohydrates wisely. Opt for carbohydrate-rich foods that are unrefined and unprocessed (such as whole grains, fruits) instead of refined and energy-dense foods (such as cakes, sweets, and soft drinks). Carbohydrates are a vital source of energy for the body, they fuel muscles and play important role in brain function. So depriving your body of this macronutrient can have unpleasant side effects. Here are six reasons to include carbohydrates in your diet.
1. Carbohydrates help boost mood
One of the reasons for eating carbohydrates is that it tends to make you happier. A diet high in carbohydrates, for example, such as whole wheat bread, pasta, cereals, potatoes, can enhance one’s mood. Researchers claim that carbohydrates, in their purest form, promote the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone, it promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.
Moreover, carbohydrates uplift a depressed mood and controls aggressiveness. It is also known to be beneficial for what is known as ‘winter depression’. Usually, a high-carb diet, complex carbohydrates, combined with lean proteins have a positive effect on one’s mood. This food combination plays a key role in uplifting your mood, motivation, and concentration.
2. Carbohydrates promote weight loss
A healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and low-fat dairy products, and moderate in fat along with daily exercise is the best way to lose weight. There is a misconception that carbs make you fat. Carbs don’t make you fat however, on the contrary, carbohydrates aid in healthy weight loss.
High-carb diets, consisting of complex carbs, act as powerful appetite suppressants. They keep you full for a longer time as they are digested more slowly than other types of food. Thus, they trigger a feeling of fullness. The fiber and resistant starch foods (such as grains and starchy vegetables) raise levels of satiety hormones that signal the brain to stifle hunger and increase metabolism. So in short, carbs curb your hunger, fill you up for a longer time, and help you to lose weight.
3. Carbohydrates are good for your heart
Carbohydrates are not bad for your heart at all, as long as you choose a variety of whole, less processed carbohydrates in moderation. What matters is the type of carbohydrate you choose. Carbs can either improve or worsen your heart health. For instance, if your diet mostly consists of soda, cheesy pasta, fried potatoes, or other processed carbs then you are certainly damaging your heart health.
Consuming foods rich in soluble fiber (complex carbs) such as oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples, etc are the key to good heart health. Soluble fiber reduces increased blood sugar levels and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood. The fiber binds to cholesterol and prevents it from being reabsorbed. Thus eventually removing the excess from the body. Therefore, people who consume more whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, bulgur) tend to have lower LDL cholesterol levels, thereby having good heart health.
4. Carbohydrates are fuel to your brain
Among many reasons, one important reason for not eliminating carbs from your diet is that carbohydrates are brain fuel. Cutting carbs from your diet may lead to weight loss for the short term but it could have an immediate impact on brain function. Although the brain accounts for only 2% of the body weight, it consumes 20% of the daily energy, mostly in the form of glucose.
Research shows that a healthy diet consisting of complex carbohydrates improves brain performance and preserves brain function. They also protect brain cells against damage from free radicals. Furthermore, since carbs are slow to digest, they provide a steadier source of brain fuel. Therefore, you need a considerable intake of carbohydrate-rich foods to stay focused and energized all day.
5. Carbohydrates help in reducing wasitline
This may be hard to believe but there is plenty of research to back this up. According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, consuming three servings of whole grains a day has been linked to smaller waist sizes in middle-aged adults. This research is against the common belief that eating carbs lead to increased belly fat.
As the study indicates, replacing refined carbs with whole grains leads to a decrease in abdominal adiposity and other cardiometabolic diseases. So if you are worried about that bulky waistline, you might as well start making healthy choices. Replace your refined bread, pasta, and pizzas with whole grain products.
6. Carbohydrates for improved muscle mass
If you are working to gain muscles, then cutting carbohydrates from your diet might not be good. This is because when the body is running on a low-carb diet, then it starts using other sources such as fats and proteins to fulfill its needs. Moreover, carbohydrates, like proteins, are important for fueling your muscles. Carbohydrates are stored in the form of glycogen in muscles and this stored energy (glycogen) helps to power your workouts.
After the glycogen is used for energy, it is important to replenish these stores because consuming carbs post-exercise prevents muscle loss and helps to repair them. That is why it is recommended to consume carbohydrates immediately after exercise. Also, focus on choosing good, quality carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread and cereals, milk, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables. In conclusion, carbs are important for building muscles.
Eliminating carbohydrates lead to weight loss. If you still think this is so, let me make it clear. You lose weight when you are consuming fewer calories and eliminating a certain food group be it fats, proteins, or carbs, equates to eating less. Reasons as to why carbohydrates are eliminated first are that they are easily consumed in excess and that we tend to eat the wrong kind of carbohydrates. So if you are eating the right type of carbs (complex, whole grains), in moderate amounts, you are definitely on the healthy track.