Weight Loss Strategies - Appreciate Your Carbohydrates

by : Kalvin C. Chinyere, M.D.



Carbohydrates should be included in any healthy weight loss plan. Carbohydrates are not the devil. They are like relatives. You want to invite some into your house and others you don't. Most of the benefits of carbohydrates are not from the sugar molecules in the carbohydrates, but from the nutrients that accompany them. These nutrients make carbohydrates an essential part of any healthy weight loss plan.

The Carbohydrate Team

Glucose

All carbohydrates, except fibers, are converted by your body into glucose. Glucose is the energy source of choice. Your body, especially your brain, functions best when using glucose for energy. Using glucose for energy also prevents your body from using proteins for energy.

Fiber

Dietary fibers are not used for energy, but they are beneficial to the body. Dietary fibers are not fully digested in your stomach and eventually pass into your intestines. There, they promote intestinal health by softening stool. Fiber attracts water and is not readily converted into energy, so it fills you up without adding many calories to your diet. Fiber is very helpful in weight loss.

Fiber also slows down your entire digestion process. By slowing down the digestion of other carbohydrates, fiber impedes the release of glucose into the blood and prevents insulin spikes. Dietary fiber also decreases the absorption of cholesterol from the foods you eat. Foods high in fiber will help to decrease your blood cholesterol, decreasing your risk for many diseases including cardiovascular disease.

Vitamins and Minerals

Carbohydrates, especially vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, are great sources of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are important to your body because they facilitate many of the processes in your body, boost your immune system, and help prevent many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Phytochemicals

Along with vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates have other nutrients that are beneficial to your body. These nutrients are called phytochemicals. Most of these phytochemicals are antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body from oxidative damage, helping to prevent many diseases including cancer. Some phytochemicals protect your body from bacteria and other pathogens. Other phytochemicals have beneficial hormonal actions.

Many low carbohydrate diets encourage you to drastically decrease your carb intake. However, doing this will deprive your body of the many health benefits of carbohydrates. You can lose weight and improve your overall health by utilizing the nutrients from carbohydrates.