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After years of dieting trial and error, I finally embraced the importance of my carbohydrate intake.
Prior to understanding and consistently practicing carb-conscious living, I was unable to maintain my desired weight and leanness, regardless of how much I exercised. Despite all of the focus on carbohydrates over the past decade, obesity rates are climbing and incidences of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes continue to rise. Studies have shown a direct connection between excess carbohydrate consumption and being overweight and more susceptible to poor cardiovascular health.
It’s impossible to fully understand just how impactful your carbohydrate consumption is, without first understanding the basics.
What are carbs?
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are one of the three major classes of molecules we ingest as food (the others being fats and proteins). Carbs serve as our primary source of energy. However, all carbohydrates were not created equal. You should avoid simple sugar carbs, which are “found in refined foods like cakes and cookies, and are digested very, very quickly (Fat to Firm at Any Age, Bauman/Harrar).” Other culprits include: white bread, white rice and sugary beverages. Instead, focus on consuming healthy, more satisfying, complex carbohydrates such as: whole fruit, whole grains (brown rice or whole wheat pasta), and fresh vegetables. If your carb source isn’t close to its purest, most raw state, you probably shouldn’t be consuming it.
How carbs can make you fat
Simply put, excess carbs turn to sugar in the body, and then when not burned (via calorie-burning physical activity), subsequently turn in to fat. Diets high in carbohydrates “promote insulin resistance, which in turn promotes the storage of body fat. A low-carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, lowers insulin levels, not only reducing fat storage but also reducing the risk of diabetes (Total Body Makeover, Greene).” It’s easy to understand this concept if you apply the old adage “you are what you eat.” If you’re eating soft, mushy, processed, lightly-colored bland foods, this will be reflected in your body tone. You can’t achieve a lean, taut and tight body by consuming foods that are fast-burning, and high on the glycemic index.
Why carb-conscious living is the answer
A diet rich in complex carbohydrates protects against cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. Starchy, simple carbs make you fat, feel lethargic and have been linked to premature aging. Complex carbs, in the form of fresh vegetables and whole grains are denser than refined carbohydrates, which contributes to overall satiety (feeling full) and provides much-needed fiber. Best-selling author Nicholas Perricone, M.D. writes “Western diets are woefully deficient in fiber — a key reason we weigh more and have more body fat and higher body mass indexes than traditional native cultures whose diets are fiber rich and devoid of processed, refined foods (Ageless Face, Ageless Mind).”
Wishing you health,
Holly Lowe Jones is a media professional, fitness expert, and seasoned personal trainer. A member of the National Association for Health and Fitness, Jones is also a seasoned triathlete who competes in her spare time.