In recent years, there has been a huge increase in low-carb and carb-free diets designed to help people lose weight or adjust to dietary sensitivities. However, carbs are not inherently bad and actually have many benefits in the human diet. Carbs naturally occur in plant-based foods and not just bread products. Therefore, the source from which you get your carbs makes a big difference in how healthy they are and how you feel after eating them.
In this article, we are looking at healthy ways to eat carbs and why you might reduce your overall carb intake for health reasons.
Healthy Sources of Carbs
Aside from grain products, you can also get your daily carbs from fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Carbs come in the form of sugars, starches, and fiber. The recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is that carbohydrates make up 45 to 65 of your total daily calories. The percentage is this high because carbs provide the body with energy, protect the body against disease, and help you control your weight.
To choose the best carbs for your diet, you will want to focus on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, such as apples and berries. Whole grains are better than refined grains because of the nutrients they contain and the reduced amount of processing. For dairy products, choose low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt for good sources of carbs, plus protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
Benefits of Reducing Carbs
The typical American diet is heavily carb-focused and could stand a bit of a readjustment. Too many refined, low-quality carbs over time can increase a person’s risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
One major benefit to switching to a low-carb diet is lowering triglyceride levels, especially in people living sedentary lifestyles. Low-carb diets can also help control blood sugar and insulin levels, which is helpful for people who have diabetes or insulin resistance. However, some people who suddenly cut carbs out of their diet may experience short-term side effects like headaches, constipation, and muscle cramps.
Best Ways to Reduce Carbs
Rather than cutting all carbs out of your diet and suffering the health consequences, there are healthy ways to rethink the way you approach carbs every day. For example, you can cut sugar-sweetened drinks out of your diet to cut back on carbs that do not benefit the body and swap them out with flavored sparkling water instead. Eat whole pieces of fruit instead of drinking fruit juice to make the most of your carb consumption.
When you’re hungry for a snack, ditch the crackers and chips to choose nuts, cheese, seeds, or yogurt instead. Breakfast foods are often very carb-heavy, so consider making the switch to morning eggs instead of sugary cereals or pastries. But remember that grains are still an important part of any diet, so choose whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat, and switch from white rice to brown rice and from white bread to whole-wheat or multi-grain bread. Many people feel noticeable differences in their energy levels and how their bodies feel after making these easy swaps and looking at carbs in a whole new way.