No matter how many times you’re told to kick carbs from your diet for weight loss, you can’t seem to keep them off the brain. Of course you can’t – that’s because your brain, muscles and all the organs in your body use carbs as their ideal go-to source of fuel for proper functioning and balance.
Where you start to get in to trouble with carbs is when you try to meet your body’s natural carb needs with processed carbs instead. Processed carbs turn off the body’s ability to sense when you’ve eaten enough, while triggering more and more carb cravings, overeating and full-blown carb addiction.
You can reap the critical health and weight loss benefits of carbs when you eat the right kinds in the right ways. On the other hand, eating the wrong kinds of carbs in the wrong ways is a recipe for nagging cravings, bad eating habits, food addiction and weight gain.
Keep carbs from taking control of your life, your health and your weight with these 5 smart eating strategies. Learning how to keep your blood sugar steady, your insulin release controlled and your appetite satisfied is key to ensuring that you live a nutritionally balanced life without feelings of deprivation, while also maintaining good health and successfully achieving your goal weight.
5 Strategies to Keep Carbs from Causing Weight Gain
- Drink instead of eat. Before you give in to your next carb craving, drink a tall class of water instead. The brain isn’t always able to differentiate physical signals of hunger versus signals of thirst, often sending you on a search for simple carbs to quickly solve the problem instead of reaching for the true solution – hydration. Sometimes drinking a glass or two of water and waiting 15 minutes for your body to register it is enough to turn cravings off, preventing you from eating unnecessary calories and weight gain.
- Have protein first. A new study showed that, when people ate lean protein with veggies before eating a high carb meal, their blood sugar didn’t spike as high as it did when the high carb meal was eaten first, nor was post-meal insulin release quite as high. This suggests that the order in which we eat our macro-nutrients can have an impact on sugar absorption, appetite suppression, fat storage and weight gain. Eating your chicken and salad before your rice, or saving all of your carbs for dessert can help reduce some of the physical responses that carbs can trigger and that promote weight gain.
- Wait 20 minutes. Brain scans have shown that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive chemical signals from the digestive system that let it know when you’ve eaten enough and should stop. This is especially important when it comes to high carb meals, which can keep setting off false hunger signals in the body. So before you go back for a second helping or before you reach for dessert, be sure to stop eating and wait at least 20 minutes. Better yet, use those 20 minutes to occupy yourself with non-eating related activities. More often than not, after those 20 minutes are up, you’ll find that you’re just not that hungry anymore, making it far easier to stop eating after a sensibly portioned meal and to avoid overeating and weight gain.
- Eat some healthy dietary fat. Eat a portioned amount of dietary fat with your carbs, or better yet, before you eat your carbs. Eating 7 – 10 grams of healthy dietary fat triggers the pyloric valve between the stomach and small intestine to close off, keeping food in the stomach longer and giving you a more immediate feeling of post-meal fullness and satisfaction. Smart sources of healthy dietary fat that help you curb negative carb effects include 1 tablespoon of all natural almond butter or peanut butter (without any additives), 1/3 of a ripe avocado, 1 palm full of almonds or walnuts, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, etc. These dietary fats still have a caloric impact, but eating a portioned amount has a positive effect on your digestive functioning and your appetite, helping to prevent you from overeating far more calories and gaining weight down the road.
- Fill up on fiber. Choose carbs that are naturally high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber acts like brakes on your food as it travels through your digestive system. High fiber foods move more slowly through your system, making you feel full sooner, and keeping you feeling fuller longer. Raw, whole foods have the highest quantity and quality of natural, fat-blasting fiber, helping to shut off your appetite while turning on your detoxification and cleansing processes.
Carbs are nutrient packed foods that promote health and weight loss. Eating the right carbs with the right strategies helps to ensure that you can live a balanced life and get the most out of your carbs without suffering the consequences of carb-triggered overeating, energy crashes and weight gain.