Low-Carb Eating: Can Complex Carbs Fit In?
By Tom Seest
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Carbs are essential components of a healthy diet, providing energy and helping regulate blood sugar levels, maintaining weight stability, and avoiding complications related to dieting.
Complex carbs are longer chains of sugars that take more time for your body to break down and provide lasting energy and satisfaction after meals.
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Carbs are one of the three macronutrients (major nutrients) our bodies require – along with protein and fat. Carbs not only provide energy for our bodies but also balance blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, and support other bodily processes.
Starch is a form of carbohydrate found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, and some whole grains that are digested to be broken down into glucose (sugar) for energy use by our bodies.
On a keto diet, it’s crucial to limit the amount of starch you eat as this will raise blood sugar and insulin levels, potentially throwing off ketosis – the state in which your body uses stored fat for energy production.
There are plenty of low-carb alternatives to starchy foods that won’t cause insulin spikes or your blood sugar to skyrocket, such as almond flour or coconut flour; you could also use psyllium husk powder as a thickener.
Psyllium husk is a plant fiber with very few carbohydrates, making it the ideal keto alternative to cornstarch. Additionally, its high level of soluble fiber acts like glue to hold food together for easier digestion by your body.
Resistant starch is a convenient form of dietary fiber that doesn’t need to be digested for its effects to be felt by your body – an easy way to increase fiber consumption and help feel satiated for longer while decreasing appetite.
Resistant starch may help improve insulin sensitivity and digestive health, especially for people who are overweight or experience digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. It’s especially useful in cases of weight problems.
Your keto diet can benefit from incorporating resistant starch through supplements or foods like chia seeds, flaxseed, green bananas, and potato starch (which doesn’t contain gluten). If this is something new for you, start slowly by only adding 1 or 2 tablespoons per day until you understand its purpose and benefits.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate with a high caloric intake but little nutritional benefit, so it is wise to limit how much sugar you eat during a keto diet, as too much sugar consumption may spike blood glucose levels and cause problems for health.
Carbohydrates are essential to the body, providing energy and helping cells store glycogen for later use. Furthermore, carbohydrates also play an important role in controlling blood sugar levels, maintaining steady energy, and curbing hunger pangs.
Carbs come in two basic varieties: simple and complex. Both types can be found in food sources, with simple carbohydrates being broken down quickly into sugar by our bodies, while complex ones take longer for digestion.
As part of your keto diet, it’s important to limit your consumption of simple carbs like white bread, pasta, and sweets and opt instead for eating more vegetables and whole grains, which contain complex carbs for sustained energy.
If you must consume sugar, natural sweeteners such as honey or agave syrup offer lower calories per teaspoon than table sugar yet still taste sweet.
Protein and fiber-rich legumes and lentils offer another healthy way to source carbs on a keto diet.
Nuts and seeds offer a delicious way to add carbs without negatively affecting your health. Nuts contain protein, healthy fats, fiber, and antioxidants, which may improve health while decreasing inflammation.
Fruits are an excellent source of various essential vitamins and nutrients, as they’re low in sugar while high in fiber – perfect for managing appetite!
Yogurt can provide an additional source of carbohydrates in your meal, but be sure to select plain, unflavored versions with less added sugar – for instance, one 5.3-ounce container of Fage’s 5 percent milk-fat Greek yogurt contains 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Fiber is one of the key elements to consider when embarking on a keto diet, as it will keep you feeling satisfied for longer while also providing important nutrition to your body.
Americans fall far short of meeting their daily fiber recommendations – only about 16 grams for adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Achieve adequate fiber intake may help promote weight loss, lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as combat constipation.
Complex carb foods typically offer plenty of dietary fiber, including whole grains and fruit. Furthermore, they’re an important source of protein and healthy fats.
To maximize fiber intake from complex carbs, choose whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals. Avoid white rice and refined flours in favor of ingredients like wheat bran, rolled oats, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa.
Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to increase your fiber consumption. They contain soluble fiber, which dissolves in water to form a gel in your stomach – this promotes regularity while simultaneously helping lower blood sugar levels.
Add cooked beans or lentils as an excellent source of fiber in soups, salads, or chili for added nutrition and to make your dishes more vegetarian-friendly. They make an ideal replacement for meat burgers in many recipes!
Foods high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as legumes such as beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils, provide essential sources of nutrition as they contain plenty of dietary fiber while also being high in vitamins, minerals, and other vital components.
Choose high-fiber foods as the easiest way to ensure you are receiving sufficient amounts of fiber in your daily diet, aiming for at least 25 to 35 grams per day for optimum digestive and cardiovascular health.
To increase your intake of fiber, try eating different kinds of food and drinking enough fluids throughout the day to remain hydrated. It may also help to drink water after each meal or snack in order to better absorb its benefits for fiber absorption.
Carbs are an essential part of a balanced diet, providing your body with the fuel it needs for daily functions. There are three forms of carbohydrates: starches, sugars, and fiber.
Starches are one of the most prevalent sources of carbohydrates. They are found in various food items and are composed of simple sugar structures called glucose, which your body converts into energy for energy use.
They provide vital vitamins and minerals and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels while keeping you feeling satisfied and full for hours on end.
Complex carbohydrates don’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike as rapidly as sugars do; instead, they take longer to break down and provide longer-lasting energy sources.
Complex carbs foods typically consist of whole-grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, and barley, which provide fiber benefits that support digestive health while potentially decreasing heart disease and diabetes risks.
As another way of getting complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables offer another excellent way to satisfy this nutrient. While fruits contain natural sugars, they’re also full of health-promoting benefits like fiber and vitamins A and C that make eating fruits an invaluable way of increasing complex carbs in your diet.
Vegetables are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also promotes regular bowel movements and can reduce your risk of constipation.
Diets that incorporate complex carbohydrates should do so as part of healthy and well-rounded meals, like eating bread with its complex carbs intact – each slice provides several grams.
Complex carbs can also be found in legumes like lentils and chickpeas, serving as an additional source of vitamins B6 and potassium as well as fiber.
As a rule, it’s advisable to include a variety of unprocessed whole foods into your diet, such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and beans. Doing this can help balance blood sugar, maintain a healthy weight, and lower the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
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