Carbs, also known as carbohydrates, are part of one of the main macronutrients of our diet and are the most responsible for providing the necessary energy to our body. Every carb decomposes in the body through the action of specific enzymes ‘till they go back to their standard form, when they are absorbed and metabolized.
There are three types of carbs:
Monosaccharaides: They are considered simple carbs. They give foods a sweet taste and are easily absorbed and digested by the body. These include glucose (fruit and sugar), fructose (fruit and honey), and galactose (milk, dairy and vegetables).
Disaccharides: They are also part of the simple carbs group and are also easily absorbed and digested. These include sucrose, extracted from sugar-cane or beet, lactose (milk, dairy and a few vegetables) and maltose (cereal, vegetables and tubers).
Polysaccharides: Complex carbs due to their slow absorption and digestion. You can find them in rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, cereal and dry vegetables.
Tip: Take in little amounts of carbs throughout the day, giving preference to the complex varieties.
Why do I need good carbs?
Good carbs give the body important ingredients like fibers, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that don’t provoke a drastic increase of sugar levels (glucose) and insulin in the blood. Insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas, is responsible for glucose control, and its production is bigger when the glucose level is higher. In addition to these factors, complex carbs are recommended because they help with maintenance and with weight loss.
The World Health Organization and the Dietary Guildeline for Americans recommend that carbs should constitute between 55 to 60% of the total energy consumption. Taking this into account, if an individual who has the goal of reaching 2000 daily kcal, he’ll have to take in between 1100 to 1200 calories from this macronutrient, which is, between 275 and 300g.
The most important factor to take into account is the glycemic index (GI). This value measures the speed and intensity with which carbs stimulate sugar in the blood. You need to take into account that processed foods (like cakes, sweets, bread and pasta) are high in GI, which means that they are rapidly absorbed by the body. The result is a sudden energy spike that will not last for long. This said, a few minutes later this energy will no longer be available and you will be hungry again.
You should always choose low GI carbs that will give you energy gradually and will keep you from feeling hungry for longer, avoiding that constant feeling for snacks, cookies or other processed foods.
Six foods high in cars that you should include in your weight loss plan:
Beans – In a 50g serving, we can find 10g of vegetable proteins and 11g of fiber. This food also includes nutrients like: potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and complex B vitamins.
Oat – A bowl with 40g of oat provides the satiety your body needs, not only because of the vegetable protein, but also because of the 4g of fiber that this food contains. In addition to these nutrients, oat is also a natural source of iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin E.
Whole Bread – Per 100g of whole bread you can find 8g of fiber, 7g of protein, potassium, phosphorus, complex B vitamins, selenium and magnesium. If you compare this to white bread, this is the food the represents the lowest glycemic value.
Quinoa – In a 50g serving, enough to make a meal, you will only be taking in 200 kcal, with 8g of protein and 8g of fiber. Other sources like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc compose the nutritional value of this food.
Popcorn – If you want a snack that’s high in carbs and, at the same time, good for your weight loss plan, choose 30g of popcorn. This amount provides about 150kcal and 3g of fiber. Other nutrients like proteins, potassium, magnesium and complex B vitamins are also included in this food.
Whole-grain rice – A serving of 50g, enough to make a meal, provides 175kcal and 4g of protein. Besides that, whole-grain rice is an excellent source of magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Other low GI options: whole-wheat pasta, linseed, barley, muesli, vegetables, apple, pear and sweet potato.
Gabriela Gottau, Los mejores hidratos para tu plan de adelgazamiento, 10th of October 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version
Nelma Viana e Marisa Costa, A dieta dos hidratos, n/d, translation and adaptation of the original version
Rui SC, Hidratos de Carbono, n/d, translation and adaptation of the original version