When it comes to managing weight in our 50’s and beyond, the carb dilemma is one of the most confusing and frustrating topics. This post shares some fascinating facts about carbs so you can feel confident about how to safely fit them into your healthy eating plan.
We can tell you from YEARS of experience working with women and weight loss that over 90% of the time, there is no need to avoid carbohydrates and in fact, it can be detrimental to do so in the long run.
Read or watch below to get our take on the subject.
First and foremost, carbs are NOT the enemy, and here’s why:
- They contain powerful, anti-inflammatory plant chemicals such as antioxidants and polyphenols that help reduce our risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and more.
- They help build muscle (it’s not all about protein). We store carbs as glycogen in our muscles and liver for usable energy. If your carb intake is super low, you will risk burning your muscle tissue for energy, unless you are in ketosis. Breaking down muscle is the last thing you want to do when trying to lose and maintain weight. Plus, carbs help you repair muscle tissue after exercise.
- Carbs help provide satisfaction at meals by filling you up.
- Carbs are the only macronutrient that provides real, whole food sources of fiber.
We can’t talk about carbs without talking about the difference between a whole food (healthy) carb and a processed carb.
Foods in the “healthy carbs camp” are what we call energy boosters. These include not only an array of colorful veggies and fruits, but also sweet potatoes, red/purple potatoes, peas, wild rice, quinoa, and beans, to name a few.
The healthier carb sources will have a vastly different impact on your body (and waistline) then processed carbs or “energy thieves” such as white bread, white rice, crackers, pastries and cookies.
This is because whole food carbs are not stripped of their nutrition. There is a huge difference between a potato and a potato chip, for instance. Not only in terms of nutrient quality, (and the way it is cooked) but also in terms of fiber content. More info on calories can be found HERE.
One of the greatest benefits carbs offer is their fiber content. Fiber is the indigestible component of plant foods. One of its most important features is that it feeds our good bacteria. We have trillions of bacteria in our body which need to be nourished!
Our bacteria consume fiber and in turn perform all sorts of functions in our body. This includes metabolizing nutrients from food, providing a protective barrier against intestinal infections, producing vitamin K and many B vitamins, and acting as a key part of our metabolic and immune system.
Did you know that our gut bacteria produce about 95% of our serotonin? Serotonin is our happy chemical!
The bottom line is that slashing all carbs will deprive your body of various antioxidants, nutrients, and fibers, and this WILL affect your health, digestion, immune system, mood, metabolism, and weight long term.
We are more sensitive to carbs in and around menopause, so we DO need to be careful with how we incorporate them into our diets.
It all comes down to 3 things:
#1: Quality of carbs: Veggies, fruits, sweet potatoes far superior to bagels and chips.
#2: Balance, protein and healthy fats. Be sure to include a good source of protein and some healthy fats to round out your meal.
#3: Portion control! With any food (even healthy ones!), watching portions and not overeating is critical.
Be sure to share this information with anyone you think may benefit!