Plant based carbohydrates from veggies are key to longevity and weight management long term.
Carbohydrates provide a regular source of energy for our bodies, as well as playing an important role in structure and function of cells, tissues and organs. The human body uses carbohydrates in the form of glucose. Glucose can be converted to glycogen, stored in the liver and muscles, ready to become available when the need arises (when expending energy through exercise). The brain needs glucose as an energy source as well.
Now, the initial energy laps when lowering your carb intake, for the purpose of fat loss, does give us a few uncomfortable side effects. This can also cause us to become moody, feel hungry all the time and produce cravings. This is all normal by the way, and takes a bit of time for the body to adjust.
Don’t become a slave to carbs.
We mistakenly believe that carbs are the most essential macronutrient, due to years of poorly thought out habits and behaviours (mainly from the media). This is where a lot of people go wrong when it comes to fat loss and athletic performance. Below I’ll discuss some benefits of low carb eating, and how it can help you to achieve your body composition goals.
6 benefits of lowering your carb intake
- Eating less calories overall. Carbohydrates are composed of sugars. Sugar tends to magnify our hunger receptors, therefore enticing us to keep consuming food well after we’ve eaten. This is more prevalent when when eating refined carbs such as sweets. To avoid this from happening, limit your carbohydrate intake, which will have a knock on effect of lowering your body fat, avoid metabolic and hormonal disruption and keep your insulin levels in check.
Instead: Opt for healthy carbohydrates, that a high in fiber, such as; – sweet potato, oats and vegetables.
- Reducing body fat. Think of this one as the ‘thermic food effect’ or the amount of calories your body needs to digest certain foods. Protein is a key macronutrient that has the most thermic effect, secondary to that is carbs, then fats. When lowering your carbs, the natural alternative is to increase your intake of protein (and fats of course). When you eat protein, not only do you burn calories digesting it, you also preserve your muscle mass, and feel satiety. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burnt at rest.
Instead: If you want to lose body fat, the ideal amount of carbs is 50g per day. If you are athletic, lean and train intensely, you can consume up to 150g per day
- Preventing hunger and cravings. When people constantly overeat, or eat far too many carbs, insulin is constantly flowing, causing the cells to then become resistant to insulin. Overtime, this causes the hypothalamus (which is our key signal of satiety) to become resistant to the message that we are now full.
Instead: Opt for the carb cycling strategy. This will fill your need for carbohydrates, and allows your body to become more metabolically flexible. It will also re-set the hypothalamus signals, and your metabolism will no longer become resistant to fat loss.
- Lowering cholesterol. A low carb diet improves cholesterol levels long term, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. A low carb diet that’s primarily plant based can have a huge impact on reducing your cholesterol markers considerably. If you prefer animal protein sources, opt for leaner protein sources such as fish, turkey and chicken breast.
Instead: Use veggies as your main source of carbs, and eat leaner cuts of protein.
- Reducing the risk of diabetes. Restricting or lowering carbs improves a host of metabolic problems, even reversing the onset of diabetes. Fiber is one key factor that plays a huge role in allowing you to avoid hunger and reduce your risk of diabetes. Opting for plant based carbs is very beneficial. Most vegetables are high in undigestible fiber, decrease energy intake due to slower digestion. This keeps you full for longer periods of time, and reduces cravings.
Instead: Choose high fiber, cruciferous veggies with every meal
As you can see, the benefits of going low carb are hard to dismiss. The onset of uncomfortable feelings within the body when you begin this journey, can be offset with proper nutrition and exercise. Give your body time to adapt, and try carb cycling, so you still get the fat burning benefits, without the side effects of weight gain. Hope this helps you.