Carbs are okay! In fact, they’re great for weight loss! Proponents of fad diets like and keto and paleo wouldn’t have you believe it, but carbohydrates are actually the preferred source of energy for the human body and have an important place in a healthy lifestyle. Here’s why carbs actually help with weight loss:
1. There’s a common saying in weight-loss nutrition: “fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.” This is due to a complex series of reactions that take place in fat metabolism. In short, pyruvate (a product of carbohydrate metabolism) must be available in the mitochondria for us to break down fat for energy. Without carbohydrates available, fat metabolism stalls until the body begins breaking down protein for pyruvate. So we need that carbohydrate flame to burn fat!
2. Most people talking about “weight loss” would like to lose fat, not muscle. After all, muscles perform important functions in the body and help us look lean and in shape! They’re also metabolically expensive, meaning that having a high muscle mass speeds up the metabolism and helps us burn calories faster. As mentioned above, our bodies are forced to break down available protein (read: muscle tissue) for energy when we deprive them of carbohydrates. This translates to muscle loss, which slows down fat loss and makes weight loss results look less dramatic!
3. Carbs let you work harder in your workouts! Since they’re the body’s preferred source of energy, depriving yourself of carbohydrates will make for a sluggish workout. And since carbohydrates help prevent the breakdown of muscle, giving your body enough carbs means faster recovery between workouts. That way, you can work harder the next time you hit the gym!
4. Carbs help you feel full. Most healthy carbohydrate-rich foods are also rich in fiber, so getting plenty of carb-rich foods like rice, potatoes, and fruit will help you stay fuller longer. When we aren’t walking around feeling hungry, we’re more likely to make good food choices instead of indulging in greasy or sugary comfort foods. This alone is great for weight control!
Make sure to fuel up on plenty of healthy carbs like fruit, whole grains, and starchy root vegetables like potatoes to keep yourself going strong and making progress!