Someone on my facebook page recently asked me the following question:
Should I avoid carbohydrates if I want to lose weight?
A lot of you will be surprised to hear that my answer is NO, avoiding carbohydrates is not the best way to lose weight! My weight loss and weight management clients often tell me at our first appointment that they have been avoiding carbohydrates and can’t understand why they have not been losing as much weight as they want.
I am here to separate the carbohydrate myths from the facts:
- It is a myth that carbohydrates are bad for you
- It is a myth that eating carbohydrates will make you fat
People assume all carbohydrates are bad for them, but when asked why they are bad for them people tell me: I read it online, or someone told me not to eat them.
This dietitian wants you eating carbohydrates!
All foods are able to fit into your diet, and I will explain why carbohydrates are important, and why they should not be avoided.
Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel and energy. Our bodies break down carbohydrates into glucose which our bodies then use for energy. The right carbohydrates will also provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. I say the right kind of carbohydrates, because I do not want you thinking that you should eat a doughnut for breakfast, a croissant for lunch and a big bowl of spaghetti for dinner. There are different types of carbohydrates, and I recommend choosing mostly whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and low fat dairy. You should be limiting refined carbohydrates such as white bread, and cakes.
How carbohydrates can help you lose weight
The fiber in whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables helps to fill you up, and therefore can aid in weight loss. When we fill up on fiber, we are less likely to overeat, and studies have linked fiber to a decreased risk of obesity. People often blame carbohydrates for their weight gain or their inability to lose weight. However, people often don’t pay attention to portion control. Therefore, it is not the carbohydrates leading to weight gain, it is the portion of the carbohydrates.
Meal planning with carbohydrates
When I plan meals for myself and work with clients, I talk about including a carbohydrate, a protein and a fat at every meal. I also talk about pairing a carbohydrate with a protein. For example, I don’t recommend having a slice of whole wheat bread on its own for breakfast. Instead, have the whole wheat bread with 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter. This not only helps balance out portions, but will keep you feeling full for even longer. I recommend clients use the myplate method when meal planning and making ½ of their plate fruits and vegetables, ¼ of their plate protein and ¼ of their plate carbohydrates. This method of eating helps clients learn portion control.
Some carbohydrates to try include:
Whole wheat bread (make sure whole wheat is the first ingredient)