Due to widespread misinformation, carbs are often viewed as an enemy of weight loss. Pasta, bread, and potatoes have become the forbidden fruit, and weight loss a dreadful experience that keeps us away from our favorite meals. Thankfully, it’s not all so black and white.
Carbohydrates are our bodies’ primary energy sources, according to medical science, so they can’t be all bad. Plus, they don't make up an entire food item. Foods with carbs also contain protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients relevant to our health and well-being.
To help you understand what we’re talking about, the following article will discuss carbs and high protein low carb foods for weight loss.
What Are Carbs and Why Are They Important?
Before we explain how carbs relate to weight loss, you need to understand what these components are. As mentioned, carbohydrates are micronutrients necessary for our bodily functions. They are elements that your digestive system breaks down into glucose, also known as blood sugar, and uses to feed cells, tissues, and organs.
Now, not all carbs are built the same. Scientists divide them into two big groups — simple and complex. Simple, or refined, carbs are substances that our digestive system breaks down easily. They cause small blood sugar level spikes, so they’re not so great at maintaining energy in the long run. Modern dieticians and nutritionists refer to them as “bad carbs”.
Complex carbs are harder to break down, which results in slower absorption and more stable energy levels. So, including them in your diet is essential, even if you're trying to lose weight. Good carb foods for weight loss include:
- Whole grains and starches like rolled oats, brown rice, and quinoa
- Whole fruit (with the skin), like berries, apples, or plums
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds
- High-fiber vegetables like peas, carrots, and Brussels sprouts
- Beans and legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas
How Complex Carbs Help Weight Loss
Contrary to popular belief, carbs can help your weight loss. It's just a matter of incorporating them well into your diet. Here’s how you can benefit:
- Reduced appetite — Because of their molecular structure, high protein and carb low fat foods tend to be more filling. Consume them, and you’ll go longer between meals without snacking and find it easier to reduce your overall calorie intake.
- Stable blood sugar — Complex carbs will keep your blood sugar at a healthy level, fending off diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neuropathy, vision problems, and more.
- Fat burning — According to multiple studies, the same number of calories has different outcomes in terms of your weight depending on the amount of carbs vs. fats the diet includes. Tests showed that high-carb, low-fat and protein foods can help you lose weight faster. (3)
How Many Carbs Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
Now that we’ve established good carb foods for weight loss exist, let’s discuss how you can include them in your diet. According to science-backed dietary guidelines, healthy carbohydrates should comprise between 45% and 65% of your diet. That translates to 225 to 325 grams of carbs per day on a 2,000 daily calorie diet.
Now, if you’re trying to lose weight, you should lose more calories than you intake. Say you plan to burn 500 more calories than you consume — your carb intake will be lower than 225g. You can aim for a number between 100 and 150 grams of carbs a day, that is, around 40–50g of carbs per meal.
In terms of a single meal, this amount of carbs may be two pieces of bread and a piece of fruit. The former account for around 30g of carbs, while the latter makes up the additional 15 to 20. A good example is an apple or a small tangerine.
Naturally, these calculations only ring true if your meals don’t contain any other carbs. Cheese and meats like ham, chicken, and turkey are a safe choice.
The above examples of high protein low carb foods for weight loss should serve as a guideline rather than a rule. The amount of carbs you need depends on factors like age, sex, and lifestyle. Generally speaking, people need less carbs as we age because our metabolism slows down, and we spend less energy.
Conversely, younger active adults, especially athletes, need more carbs due to high energy expenditure. If they don’t consume enough, their body will start burning protein, causing muscle deterioration and delayed recovery from exercise.
If you’re unsure what category you fall into, you should learn more about your body composition and daily routine. Fitness apps, smart scales, and meal plans are a great way to accomplish both and start a healthy weight-loss journey hassle-free. You’ll be able to keep track of your progress and metabolic rate and make necessary changes for optimal results.
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