Do you need to avoid starchy carbs at all costs to lose weight? That’s a question I get asked daily, and the answer is NO. You don’t need to be on a carbohydrate depriving diet to lose weight.
BUT let’s keep in mind that not all carbs are created equal. Like all foods, there are good carbs and bad carbs. Good carbs, when consumed in proper amounts, can help you gain lean muscle and burn more fat. Bad carbs (if consumed too much) will undoubtedly mess your insulin sensitivity and cause you to gain more weight, especially around your belly.
When it comes to good carbs, pretty much any vegetables and fruits are good. Dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables are very nutrient rich with very low sugar content and high in fiber - making it the carb of the choice.
Legumes (although not my personal favorite) are fine as long as you prepare it properly and minimize any anti-nutrients (ie. soaked). The great thing about legumes is that it’s low in glycemic index and it’s quite filling, so it’s keep you full longer. The flip side is that it’s quite high in calories, but as a small side dish it can complement well with protein.
And if you’re craving for some starchy carbs, sweet potatoes are a great choice. It’s sweet enough to satisfy your sweet cravings and it has a fairly low glycemic index, so your insulin won’t sky rocket like other starchy foods.
Ok…enough with the good carbs…right? What about the bad starchy carbs? Can you eat breads, pasta, rice and all the starchy goodness and avoid gaining weight?
The answer is Yes and No.
Here are the stipulations.
You have to be active, exercise at least 3 times a week.
You can’t eat bad carbs everyday.
You have to be eating a well balanced diet.
If none of these apply to you…and you’re goal is to lose weight and get fit…I’d recommend staying away from eating “bad starchy carbs”.
However, if you meet all of the criteria I stated above…than you can indulge in starchy goodness without feeling guilty, by following these 3 simple rules
1. Eat carbs after you workout. The higher the intensity of the workout the better, this way glucose gets taken up and stored as glycogen instead of being stored as fat.
2. Best to avoid mixing bad starchy carbs with lots of fat (...a little fat is fine). The combination of sugar and fat creates the perfect environment for fat storage…something you want to avoid.
3. Keep the starchy goodness to just starch and not starch and sugar. For example if you’re weakness is bread, than stick to real good bread…not bread and jam. Bread and little butter is fine…just don’t use a stick of butter.
Please keep in mind that these are general rules to help you minimize fat storage when you eat bad starchy carbs. However, some people can handle eating bad starchy carbs more than others, so how often and how much you can eat, really depends on your body’s ability to handle bad starchy carbs. And (unfortunately) that’s something you’ll need to find out (for yourself) through trial and error.
Lastly, I’m in no way advocating eating bad starchy carbs. If you can avoid them…the better off you’ll be. BUT, I know life is all about balance and we all need some indulgence, so if you’ve been feeling particularly carb deprived…try following these 3 simple rules and see how your body handles it.