Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation in the last few years. With the emergence and apparent success of low carb diets, carbs have increasingly been seen as unhealthy. The truth is that certain types of carbs are good while others are bad. Limiting your intake of all carbs can hinder your performance and negatively impact your overall health.
Why Low Carb Diets Work
The main reason that low carb diets have become so popular is because they appear to work. People who use these diets lose weight and usually quickly. Carbs are one of the macronutrients (fat and protein being the other two) that your body uses for energy. Cutting out any of the three main macronutrients will cause weight loss due to a decreased calorie intake. Neither one of the macronutrients causes weight gain or weight loss on their own.
How to Lose Weight
Losing weight is accomplished with the help of a simple equation. If the amount of calories you eat is less than the amount of calories you burn, you will lose weight. The size of your calorie deficit (the difference between how much you burn and eat) will determine how quickly the weight comes off. As far as weight loss is concerned, it doesn't make a difference if a calorie deficit is created by reducing the amount of fat, carbs or protein from the diet. A calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight. Cutting carbs out of your diet will only help you lose weight because of the overall reduction of calories in your diet. There's nothing inherently wrong with carbs that will cause you to gain weight.
Types of Carbs
Carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules that are linked together. The more sugar molecules that are linked together, the bigger or complex the carbohydrate chain will be. Based on how many sugar molecules are linked together determines the type of carbohydrate. Carbs can be split into two groups: simple and complex. Simple carbs are made up of a few sugar molecules while complex carbs are made up of hundreds or even thousands of molecules linked together.
Benefits of Carbs
Simple carbs are digested very quickly, leaving you hungry and wanting more. Simple carbs are low in nutritional value providing your body with only empty calories. Complex carbs are digested slowly keeping you full for a longer period of time. They can help you decrease your overall calorie intake and provide you with key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Simple carbs are found in donuts, white bread, candy and junk food while complex carbs are found in whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, legumes and vegetables.
The Bottom Line
There's nothing wrong with carbs. Depending on the type that you fill your diet with, they can either be helpful or hurtful to your overall health. Completely eliminating them from your diet is a bad idea.