Foodie Blogroll Ad Code

Friday, October 29, 2010

Weight Loss: Complex Carbohydrates

Ever since the advent of Atkins, it seems like carbohydrates have been viewed with the same back-and-forth ridiculousness that our culture applies to many other necessary aspects of our diet. Low-carb diets are effective ways to lose weight, sure, but they are very unhealthy. Why? Because you are depriving your body of something that it uses on a cellular level. Carbohydrates aren't bad, and neither are proteins...both are necessary for energy and cell reproduction!

So why all the negative press? Well, simple carbohydrates, defined as those with one or two sugars, are quickly converted to fat instead of used as energy. These carbohydrates are bad in large amounts and should be limited as much as possible. Complex carbohydrates, those with three or more sugars, should be a large part of your daily diet. They break down more slowly, providing you with energy that lasts longer and many of the nutrients that your body needs. Simple carbohydrates occur naturally in fruits, honey, and in some vegetables. They are also present in refined sugar, which is part of why foods containing refined sugar and flour should be avoided.

Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, in legumes and in starchy vegetables. All of these foods contain more than just carbohydrates, they also contain vitamins and minerals...which is why they should be used liberally in your daily diet. In fact, ideally you should be getting 40-60% of your daily caloric intake from complex carbohydrates.
There are plenty of websites devoted to lists of foods made up of or including complex carbohydrates...but how can these contribute to weight loss and overall health? Well, first of all, carbohydrates in the form of refined flour or sugar lack nutrients that whole grains provide. Therefore, your body will not be receiving the nutrients that it needs, resulting in poor health and malnutrition. If you aren't getting the nutrition that you need, your body will continue sending hunger signals, and you will be likely to eat more than you should...while still lacking the nutrition that your cells need for reproduction and that your body needs for energy.

It's a self-defeating cycle and, as part of the American lifestyle, certainly one of the reasons behind the obesity epidemic. Foods with complex carbohydrates tend to have many other helpful properties as well; many contain important nutrients and proteins, and though your diet should consist of a balance of carbohydrates and proteins, many whole grains and legumes offer both.

You've probably heard that eating whole grains and legumes together can create "complete proteins", or foods that contain the nine essential proteins that can't be manufactured in the body. This is true, but new research shows that a variety of foods eaten throughout the day will create the necessary proteins in your system. In other words, whole grains eaten at breakfast or lunch and legumes eaten at dinner would still have the beneficial effect of rice and legumes consumed together.

As always, eating a good balance of healthy foods will provide you with the nutrition that your body needs to be at it's best. When your body functions at it's best, every part of you has the opportunity to be successful...including your mind. This is the basic principle behind the anti-anxiety lifestyle. Give your body what it needs to perform at it's best, and mental well-being is more likely to follow. It isn't magic and it's not going to cure all of your problems, but it will help, and from personal experience, that kind of help can be life changing.

The Calm Cook

No comments:

Post a Comment