Good news, carb-lovers! You don't need to ditch your favorite food group after all. In fact, they're a necessary part of a healthy diet. When we asked Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, and consultant to Swisse Wellness, whether you need to give up carbs in order to lose weight, she answered: "Absolutely not!" She explained how some studies have even found that carb-rich foods, like whole grains, can help promote weight loss. Best day ever, right?
Additionally, certain carbohydrates actually boost your metabolism. "Resistant starch, which is a form of carbohydrate that resists digestion, makes your body work harder to convert them into energy," Erin told POPSUGAR. "The harder the body works during digestion, the more calories burned during the process — which means an increase in metabolism for you." Stock up on good resistant starches, including beans and lentils, green bananas, and cooled and reheated pastas and rice, according to Erin.
The reason carbs have such a bad reputation is because the ones we often choose are unhealthy, simple carbohydrates that have zero nutritional value. These are digested at a quicker rate and tend to be stored as fat in our midsection. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, such as whole grains and vegetables, provide energy and nutritional value. "If you do cut carbohydrates, you may be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals each day," Erin said.
And if you've ever noticed a shrunken belly after going carb-free for a few days, it's only rapid water loss, not fat loss. You'll gain that weight back as quickly as you lost it as soon as you reintroduce carbs back into your diet. "The best way to lose weight is to make practical, realistic changes you can stick with for life so that you can keep the pounds off," Erin said.
So, how much carbs should you be consuming daily? It really depends on the individual and their activity level, but the USDA recommends that 45 to 65 percent of your total caloric intake come from carbs. If you work out often, you would be on the higher end. However, you may want to stick to the lower end of the percentile if your ultimate goal is weight loss. Just be sure you don't fall below 130 grams of carbs per day to keep your central nervous system and brain adequately fueled.
If you find yourself craving sweets and other simple carbs, like white pastas and bread, Erin says that getting enough sleep can help. According to a study she referenced, poor sleep led to consuming an additional 384 calories per day.
Want to see actual results? Prioritize good carbs over bad carbs, get sufficient sleep, and implement both cardio and strength training into your fitness routine. You've got this!