A common action for people to take when trying to lose weight or body fat is to cut out carbohydrates from their diet. They are often seen as the enemy of physical progress and the reason behind weight gain. This is why strategies such as adopting a ketogenic diet are popular – eliminating carbs means that you are well on your way to losing weight, dropping body fat, and having a much slimmer, healthier physique, right?
This is far from reality. If you want to lose weight or burn body fat, the bottom line is that you have to be in a consistent calorie deficit for a significant period of time – this means that you are burning more calories than you are consuming on a daily basis. So, in general, it does not matter how many carbs you are eating, providing that you are hitting your calorie target. You could have very few or even zero carbs in your diet but if your calories are too high, you are not going to progress and could even put on more weight and body fat.
Aside from that fundamental point, there are several other reasons why carbohydrates should be included in your diet, regardless of your fitness goal. They may be seen as a ‘non-essential’ macronutrient but their importance is often underestimated and they can actually benefit you in several ways.
A very popular food among those who like to get in shape, oatmeal is a fantastic carbohydrate to have, either in the morning or post-workout. It releases energy slowly throughout the day, which ensures that you don’t have blood sugar dips or tired spells, particularly during your workout.
Oatmeal is packed with nutrients and antioxidants which can prevent disease, improve gut health, and decrease the risk of heart problems. It is also very versatile and can be used as porridge, in a smoothie, or as a baking ingredient. Due to their bland taste, it is best to mix your oatmeal with other ingredients such as nut butter, fruit, cinnamon and protein powder.
One of the more popular carbohydrates, rice is a fantastic, tasty option to have, particularly with your evening meal. It can fuel your day for several hours due to its slow releasing qualities and can keep you full and satisfied during the day. Weighed raw, it has around 320-360 calories per hundred grams, but be sure to not rely on this every day, as too much of it can be difficult for your body to digest.
Fruit is a fantastic, nutritious carbohydrate source that you can easily fit into your diet. Bananas are particularly effective as they provide a quick source of energy whilst being easily digested, meaning that you can consume it at any time without having to wait to exercise thereafter.
When you are on a diet for fat loss, one of the best things you can do to stay full and satisfied is consume foods that are high in volume but low in calories. You can get this from several sources, including lean meats and vegetables, but potatoes are an excellent way to do this through carbohydrates, with it containing just 72 calories per 100 grams. They are also extremely versatile, meaning that you can experiment and add variety to your meals.
Similarly to rice, pasta is another excellent carbohydrate source that releases energy slowly throughout the day. Many elite sports people use pasta in their diets to fuel performance, and it can apply just as much to your own training. Raw pasta has around 350 calories per hundred grams. So, hours before your workout, including pasta in one of your meals can help improve your energy, strength and overall performance.
So, if you are looking to boost your performance and lose body fat, carbohydrates are going to be a crucial part of your diet. There are several great carb sources, but five of the best include oatmeal, rice, bananas, potatoes, and pasta.
Aim to have plenty of variety with your nutrition and these sources will help fuel your workouts, which will lead to better results over time.
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