Carbs are essential for our overall health. We need them to provide us with energy and nutrients, in which our bodies happily accept. Within the weight loss world, carbs have gotten a bad name for themselves. They have been deemed the enemy, yet this could not be further from the truth.
The following benefits will have you rethinking your morning piece of toast:
1. Complete Source of Carbohydrates
There’s an important distinction to be made. There are refined carbohydrates, then there are non-refined carbohydrates. Non-refined carbohydrates are considered complex carbs because they’re a complete source, providing both natural sugars and fiber.
Refined carbs on the other hand (like the white bread you’ve been told to stay away from), have been processed so much, that there are barely any nutritional benefits left. When you eat complex carbs on the other hand (non-refined), you’re providing your body with nutritional benefits. The type of benefits that carbs are supposed to yield.
2. The Boost Energy Levels
Our bodies use and need a lot of energy. Our brain uses 20% of our daily energy alone, which means that you need to supply your body with complex carbs. Although your body can extract energy elsewhere, it’s not recommended that you rely on protein as a source of energy. You need protein to maintain tissue and muscle.
When you eat complex carbs (a whole grain bagel in the morning), you provide your body with stable, sustainable energy. Unlike refined carbs, complex carbs do not increase energy rapidly, causing you to crash shortly after. Energy will be released slowly throughout the day, preventing sluggish feelings and fatigue.
3. Aid in Sleeping Patterns
Certain complex carbs are high in tryptophan, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, as well as the hormone melatonin. Both of these play a role in terms of regulating sleep. Complex carbs that are high in tryptophan include; sweet potatoes, pumpkin, oatmeal, and bananas.
4. Leaves You Feeling Fuller, Longer
It’s important to eat a nutrient-rich meal that makes you feel satisfied. Items that are high in fiber, allow you to feel fuller, for longer periods of time. You should be consuming approximately 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily.
If you want to feel highly satisfied, aim for at least 10 grams of fiber per meal. As long as you’re sourcing the right ingredients, this is easy. For example, 1 cup of cooked navy beans provides you with 19 grams of fiber.
Since all complex carbs are a good source of fiber, you can curve your hunger. Not only will you feel satisfied, but it will be easier to stick to weight-loss diets (as hunger will not be consuming you).
5. Beneficial for Your Brain
Your brain needs a lot of energy and nutrients, as it is constantly working. If your brain lacks the energy it needs, you will experience high levels of mental fatigue, lacking focus and concentration. You can also hinder your mood, increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Complex carbs provide your brain with the boost it needs. Your brain needs a steady stream of energy, not sporadic bursts (as refined carbs spike blood sugar, then cause you to crash). Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes are your best bet.
6. Help Control Blood Sugar
Although the term ‘complex carbs’ is good to know, it’s important that you understand what that means in terms of the glycemic index. Foods that are high on the glycemic index, spike blood sugar, causing insulin to be released.
Most complex carbs do not spike blood sugar levels, which is why you do not experience an energy crash. These items are digested more slowly, which does not have a negative impact on one’s health. When you do not regulate your blood sugar properly, you can increase your risk of diabetes and other negative health effects.
7. Improved Digestion
Since complex carbs are a good source of fiber, your digestive system benefits. Fiber is an essential nutrient, meaning your body cannot produce it and you need to obtain it from your diet. Not only does it aid in digestion (pushing food through the digestive tract), but it helps eliminate waste.
When you consume more fiber, you’re less likely to experience bloating, gas, and constipation. A healthy digestive system is essential for eliminating wastes and toxins. Long-term, this helps prevent illness.
8. You Obtain Vitamins and Minerals
Complex carbs not only provide fiber but various vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables such as berries, cabbage, and artichokes, are high in antioxidants. These help aid in the fight against cancer and other diseases. Also, whole grains are an excellent source of B vitamins, which provide energy.
9. Help Your Metabolism
Since complex carbs are a rich source of energy, they’re also important for your metabolism. If you are not consuming energetic calories, your metabolism suffers. This is a common misconception (as many believe that a low-carb diet will improve metabolism). When you eat whole food carbs, you’re boosting energy levels, targeting your weight, and aiding your metabolism.
10. Help Balance Nervous System
Complex carbs bring balance to your internal systems, even your nervous system. As mentioned, complex carbs can target feelings of anxiety. Meaning, when you’re consuming complex carbs, you can counteract anxious feelings and stress. Basically, you’re helping to calm your nervous system.
Which Complex Carbs Should I Consume?
The following food contains complex carbs:
- Fruits and Vegetables: You should be consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Some great sources are sweet potatoes, strawberries, carrots, apples, asparagus, and tomatoes.
- Whole Grains: These are excellent sources of fiber, including barley, brown rice, buckwheat, whole grain bread, and oats.
- Legumes: Not only do these food provide you with fiber, but omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Include more lentils, split peas, and chickpeas to your diet.
- Dairy: Believe it or not, some dairy products contain complex carbs, as well as protein. These include low-fat yogurt, soy and skim milk.