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Everyone has an ideal weight they either aspire to get or go through plenty of steps in an effort to maintain them. Whatever your case is, gaining weight can be a problem, especially if you’re more prone to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and more.
You might be thinking that to stop gaining weight, you’ll need to reduce your consumption of foods rich in carbohydrates. However, neither carbs or fats alone cause gain weight, according to Hayden James, a registered dietitian and diabetes care and education specialist (DCES) with Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. Your daily calorie intake is where you should keep your eyes on.
Generally speaking, you will most likely gain a few extra pounds if your caloric intake is higher than the amount you lose every day. So if you want to shed some of your excess fat, for example, you should eat less high-calorie foods and exercise more.
In this article, learn more about the different types of carbs and which one among them is healthier. Furthermore, you will know some examples of foods that are rich in carbohydrates.
Simple vs Complex Carbs: Which One is Better?
Before you dismiss the idea that carbohydrates are not responsible for your weight gain, it is important to know its two different types and what benefits or downsides do they have when you eat them.
First off, when you hear the term “simple carbs”, you can expect food items, such as the following, to fall under this category:
• Sugary drinks
• Table sugar
• Fruit juice concentrate
Generally speaking, the carbs you get from processed or refined food products will have this type. However, you can also get them from fruits and milk.
According to Alicia Galvin, RD, a resident dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories in Dallas, simple carbs are easily absorbed by the body through the gut, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. When this process occurs, it can suppress fat burning. So the next time you eat some candies or drink your favorite soft drinks, keep in mind that your body weight might be a bit higher the next time you stand on a scale, especially if you consume them every day.
On the other hand, complex carbs contain fiber, a type of carbohydrate your body doesn’t digest or absorb. Galvin says that consuming foods rich in this nutrient feeds good gut bacteria and slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, ultimately preventing a spike in your blood sugar. This benefit allows you to have a constant and steady supply of energy.
However, while it may seem that simple carbs are something you should avoid, keep in mind that not all of its sources are bad for you. For example, fruits and dairy products have them but their benefits are way different than those such as candies and cookies. Determining whether carbohydrates are bad for you will depend on the type of food.
Which Foods are Great Sources of Complex Carbs?
1. Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, strawberries, apples, and more are excellent sources of complex carbs. Moreover, they also contain plenty of essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs, such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and more.
A diet rich in these nutrients can lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, prevent cancer, and may even promote weight loss, which is great for people who want to shed a couple of pounds.
2. Brown & Jasmine Rice
Unlike their white counterpart, brown and Jasmine rice are considered the healthier option as they contain the germ, bran, and endosperm of the grain, giving them a higher fiber content. This nutrient is great for satiety and weight maintenance, not to mention the vitamins and minerals it contains, such as iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins.
3. Sweet potatoes
Adding some sweet potatoes to your meals every day can help you maintain your weight. Besides being another source of fiber, eating them also increases hormones like cholecystokinin that actually helps make you feel full, according to Ryan Maciel R.D., C.S.C.S., a dietitian based in Cambridge.
4. Red potatoes
However, if you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes, going for red potatoes can also be an effective and filling food to add to your meals. They’re full of fiber that comes with less calories. But if you’re going to add toppings like sour cream or butter, you might want to consider other healthier options, such as mustard, salsa, red pepper flakes, and more.
Another high-fiber food you can add to the list is chickpeas. These legumes, according to Dietitian Patricia Bridget Lane, promote satiety which prevents you from overeating. They are perfect for people who are looking to reduce or maintain their weight.
Aside from its high fiber content and low calories, quinoa is also high in protein, at eight grams per cup. Adding this food to your diet is perfect if you are going on a meatless diet like vegetarianism, according to Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
7. Spaghetti squash
Lastly, spaghetti squash is a low-calorie food that is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, betacarotene, antioxidants, and more. According to Registered Dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD., one cup of this squash is only about forty calories and is capable of making you full.
A Long Life Involves Plenty of Carbs
Living a long life is great, especially if you want to see your kids and grandchildren grow older. While there are plenty of reasons behind why some individuals live past 100, eating plenty of foods rich in complex carbs is one of the essential keys to achieving that goal. Much like the people in Okinawa, Japan, and Ikaria, Greece, you can expect to feel alive and well even once you reach your sixties.
However, keep in mind to practice control over how much you eat every day. Stick to your recommended daily intake and you can expect to have a long and healthy life.
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