With so many fad diets to choose from, it can be difficult to know what diet is right for you. Carbohydrate reduction for weight loss is particularly effective for people who carry excess weight in the mid-section and upper body. Reducing simple carbohydrates can support healthy weight loss, particularly when lifestyle changes are also implemented.
Types of Carbohydrates
Not all carbohydrates cause weight gain and obesity. Simple carbohydrates – like white sugar, fructose and flour – turn into glucose and enter the blood stream very quickly after ingestion. A large quantity of simple carbohydrates eaten in one sitting causes the blood sugar to spike and leads to an eventual blood sugar crash – causing a craving for more carbs, overeating and weight gain. Complex carbohydrates are found in high-fiber foods like whole grains, legumes and vegetables. These carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and are a more balanced source of energy for the body.
Carbs and Obesity
Most people should get between 40 and 60 percent of calories from carbohydrates – preferably in the form of complex carbohydrates and natural sugars. In excess, the body is unable to use all the carbohydrates for energy and is forced to store it as fat. To complicate matters, eating for comfort has scientific proof. According to a study published in "Obesity Research," scientists reveal how eating simple carbohydrates increase brain serotonin levels and thus carbs can be used like a drug to cope with depression or stress. The over-consumption of carbohydrates to self-medicate is linked to increased rates of obesity.
Healthy Weight Loss
Removing refined carbohydrates like sugar, bread, pasta and sweetened drinks can help to reset the body's ability to use carbohydrates for energy instead of storing fat. By increasing physical activity and reducing carbohydrates, the body is able to utilize fat stores for energy. Physical activity is required to lose weight as a part of a low-carb diet – resistance exercises like yoga and weight training twice a week along with 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise weekly are effective in combination with diet changes to promote healthy weight loss.
Eating a healthy breakfast can start your day out right and not eating this crucial meal is linked to an increased risk of obesity. Try eating protein in the morning along with a moderate serving of complex carbohydrates – think fruit or oatmeal with two eggs. Complex carbohydrates and protein give the body usable energy without the carb-craving roller coaster that can be set off by eating pastries or other sweet foods. When snacking, go for complex carbs or protein – a handful of walnuts, a few slices of turkey or an apple are all healthy snack choices.
Amy Myszko is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritional consultant who has been helping people find greater health and balance through diet, lifestyle and natural remedies since 2006. She received her certification from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. Myszko also holds a BA in literature from the University of Colorado.