A healthy diet is an important ingredient in any successful weight loss journey, and that means ensuring you’re getting the proper amount of nutrients your body needs to thrive and stay energized—without overdoing it on the foods that can wreak havoc on it. Carbs are one diet staple that are great for your body when consumed in moderation, but can be detrimental to your weight loss goals if you eat too much of the wrong kinds. So, how much is the right amount to eat, and which carbs should you avoid?
To answer all of these questions, we checked in with Dr. Hector Perez, Chief Bariatric Surgeon from Bariatric Journal. He emphasized the importance of eating carbs in moderation, told us exactly what that means, and broke down the differences between refined carbs and whole carbs. Read on for all of his expert insight!
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How Many Carbs Should You Eat Every Day?
When you think about carbs and weight loss, you may think about all the bad things you’ve heard about carbs. But as it turns out, carbohydrates are actually an essential nutrient that your body needs in order to function properly. “Carbohydrates are one of the three main types of nutrients, along with protein and fat,” Dr. Perez explains. “They provide the body with glucose, which is transformed into energy, fueling all of the body’s activities.” And they’re definitely not all bad! He notes that while “many people think carbs are bad for you, the key is to choose the right carbs and to eat them in moderation.”
That’s right: just as with anything else, moderation is key when it comes to this nutrient, especially if you want to lose weight. “Consuming too many carbs can lead to weight gain, so it’s essential to be mindful of how much you’re eating,” Dr. Perez urges.
What exactly does “moderation” mean, though? The right amount of carbs for you to eat each day will come down to your personal lifestyle and needs. However, Dr. Perez says that “a good rule of thumb is to get 45-65% of your calories from carbs.” Got it!
If you want to stay on top of your weight loss and keep track of your diet, Dr. Perez recommends coming up with a tracking system. “An easy way to track your carb intake is to use a food journal or tracking app,” he suggests. “This will help you stay on track and make healthier choices in the long run.” Nice!
Choose Whole Carbs Over Refined Carbs
Healthy carb intake isn’t just about the amount of carbs your eating—Dr. Perez says it’s also important to make sure you’re eating the right kind. He explains there are two main types: refined and whole. You should prioritize the latter in your diet.
“Refined carbs have been processed and had the fiber and other nutrients removed,” Dr. Perez says. “They are empty calories that provide little to no nutritional value. This can make you feel sluggish and weak, leading to overeating later in the day.” Consuming too many refined carbs, such as white bread, pastries, breakfast cereals, and donuts, can also result in spiked blood sugar and increased cravings later in the day.
Whole carbs, on the other hand, can be great for your body and even aid your weight loss goals. Dr. Perez says they “are unprocessed and still contain the fiber and other nutrients your body needs.” Plus, unlike the refined variety, they’ll help you stay fuller and energized for longer, and won’t cause that dreaded blood sugar spike. For this reason, Dr. Perez says those looking to shed some pounds should “aim to get the majority of your carbs from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” which will “help you reach your goals without feeling deprived.”
Ultimately, an effective weight loss diet is about balance and moderation in all areas, and carbs are no exception! When in doubt, just listen to Dr. Perez’s advice: “Minimize your refined carbs intake and, as mentioned, focus on getting most of your carbs from whole foods.”