You Need to Cut Carbs to Lose Weight: True or False?
How many times have you been told to cut carbs if you want to lose weight? Almost every client that comes to me has completely eliminated carbs from their diet and still has not seen the changes they are looking for. So is the magic to weight loss really in carbohydrates? In order to answer this question, its important to understand the role of carbohydrates in the human body.
Carbs are an important source of fuel for your brain, kidneys, heart, and central nervous system. When you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down to make glucose, the body’s main source of fuel. So if carbs are so important, why have you been told to eliminate them from your diet? The answer lies in the two types of carbohydrates: refined and complex carbohydrates.
Refined or simple carbohydrates contain sugar and starches that have been processed so they no longer represent their original structure found in nature. This new structure lacks the fiber and micronutrients necessary for the human body to function. Examples of these types of carbs include pastries, white flour products, soft drinks, and cake. Simple carbohydrates are known to raise insulin and testosterone, promote acne development, increase estrogen, alter thyroid function, create hormonal imbalances, and lead to diabetes. While many other factors lead to hormonal imbalances, reducing simple carbohydrates in the diet is a great place to start when working to improve hormone health.
Complex carbohydrates are those found in their natural form containing fiber and micronutrients. Examples of these types of carbs include whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa, and starchy vegetables. Complex carbs have many benefits including balancing blood sugar, flushing out excess estrogen in the body, promoting a healthy pregnancy, and improving learning and memory function. These types of carbs are actually known to increase the speed of metabolism and release fatty acids that encourage fat burning mechanisms. When this occurs, your body begins to preserve muscle, increase metabolism, and burn fat all at the same time.
So now you know the difference between good and bad carbs, but how much should you eat to lose weight? This answer is not as easy as it may seem. Not everyone tolerates carbs the same. Some gain weight rapidly when incorporating a lot of carbs in their diet, while others need carbs in order to stay full and lose weight. While everyone is different, the range for carbohydrates should be between 45% to 65% of calories from your diet according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While you may be unsure where your body functions best in this range, it is always best to start high, see how your body responds, and make adjustments accordingly. So if you are unsure how you body responds to carbs, try changing your macronutrients to include 60% of calories from carbs. If you feel sluggish, run down, and bloated, cut the number down to 55% and see if you make improvements.
Take it from somebody who gains weight rapidly when eating too many carbs, but has also seen the negative effects from completely eliminating them from my diet. I have become extremely lean from cutting carbs, however I felt run down, lethargic, had brain fog, could barely make it through a workout, and developed the dreaded skinny fat body. Once I stopped taking advice from everyone else about how many carbs to eat and figured out what was best for me personally, I felt better, looked learner, and had much more energy throughout the day.
Don’t listen to what one person says to eat because it made them lean. Your body is completely unique to you, what works for one does not work for all. Find the percentage of carbs that works best for YOU, and your body will begin to burn fat because it has the proper balance of vitamins and nutrients.