There is a lot of misleading material out there, and this article is designed as a primer for you and your new healthy weight loss adventure. I will go over what I believe is the number 1 reason for so many people are overweight (other than apathy of course, you have to actually be willing to change your habits to have a hope in hell’s chance of changing things).
I spent years eating pasta, potatoes, rice and white bread thinking that because they were low in fat these foods were in fact ‘healthy’ and that they would aid me in my weight loss efforts. Pasta (and the rest) are what nutritionists would refer to as a complex carb, a type of food that can be high in starch and therefore easy for the body to convert to simple carbs, or to put it another way… sugar! With certain complex carbs your body can start laying down fat very quickly unless you engage in some strenuous exercise straight after your meal, which tends not to happen, (when was the last time you went for a run on a full stomach?) Most people simply do not realise that some foods, touted for years as healthy, simply because they are low in fat, actually have the potential to be just as bad for you in terms of weight loss as high fat equivalents.
Some examples of complex carbs…
- Kidney beans
But not all complex carbs are created the same. Some are very much like ‘simple carbs’. Side note: A simple carb is basically sugar. (Think refined sugar, fruit juice/fructose).
Out of the 5 listed above, Kidney beans and brocolli are the best. High in fiber and unprocessed complex carbohydrates, they ensure (due to their unprocessed nature) that the digestive system takes a long time to digest them, ensuring a long and sustained energy release and limited calorie intake. The ideal way to make yourself feel full.
Unfortunately the other three are pretty bad. They contain a higher level of starches, (or a high glycemic index if you prefer) which are easily broken down into sugar by the body. Furthermore, in pasta, the grains used to make the flour which the pasta is made from have been ground into a powder, releasing all the starches and making them much easier for the body to metabolize into sugar. Pretty much transforming them into a simple carbohydrate.
If you’re looking for a quick rule, then avoid most white starchy foods (white pasta, bread, rice etc) for most of the week, because as long as you keep your net intake of starchy foods down during the working week you should begin to lose weight… Side note: these foods are great just before or after a pretty hard workout as they are quickly broken down into sugars, absorbed by the blood and then taken to the glucose depleted muscles (just as good as eating a chocolate bar in my opinion)!
On a parting note, please consider this: It is pointless to compare your weight loss journey to others, by all means share your experiences, but please remember that we are all genetically different, and may just be that your friend/colleague/family member/spouse that may be eating these ‘bad’ foods is just predisposed to handle these types of food better than you. Weight loss and its associated myriad of health benefits is an immensely personal journey, intertwined not just physically but psychologically too.
Remember to enjoy your life! Happy eating!