To cut carbs or not to cut carbs, that is the question. When it comes to weight loss and health goals, this may be one of the most widely debated issues, which is exactly why we wanted to get to the bottom of it.
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and a member of our medical expert board, says you don’t need to cut carbs from your diet to lose weight, but that you might benefit from focusing on the quality of the carbohydrates you’re eating.
Here’s why not all carbs are created equal, and for more healthy eating tips make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
When cutting carbs can be a good thing
People often attempt to cut carbs out of their diet in hopes that they’ll lose more weight, and while this may be a possible route for some to take, it’s not necessary for weight loss.
“While carbohydrates get a bad rap, it’s typically because of two things—eating more processed carbohydrates and eating too many carbs,” says Goodson.
One of the main reasons that processed carbohydrates lead to weight gain is because of their added sugar content.
“More processed carbohydrates often contain added sugars, which can lead to a blood sugar spike and drop, ultimately making you crave more sugar later,” says Goodson. “This vicious cycle can contribute to eating more calories than necessary and rerouting your weight loss goals.”
Why you don’t need to cut all carbs completely
While limiting your consumption of processed carbs might help you meet your health goals, this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of carbs altogether. Certain carbohydrates can actually help you lose weight because they are full of helpful nutrients that your body needs.
“Whole grains (think oats, 100% whole-grain bread, quinoa, etc.) contain fiber, which helps get you full faster and help you stay full longer,” says Goodson, “which contributes to a more stable blood sugar and can help you manage cravings throughout the day.”
“If you are trying to lose weight, the goal is to make one-fourth of your plate complex (or high-fiber) carbohydrates then fill the rest with lean protein and colorful veggies,” says Goodson.
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