As kids, we may have been taught how eating a low-fat diet was the key to losing weight. We were told to avoid fried foods, butter, desserts, fatty meat and dark meat poultry, to be on your way to losing weight and improving our health. Well, along with a low-fat diet, it’s really important you pay attention to a low-carb diet as well. Come, let us tell you the difference between good and bad carbs.

Low-carb diet benefits

Well, when you consume carbohydrates such as a dish of pasta, your body turns them into sugar in your blood. Any sugar in your bloodstream that is not used for energy, is stored as fat. Unfortunately, it is the over-consumption of these carbohydrates that causes your blood sugar levels to rise and fall, causing you to crave more and send you on a blood sugar roller-coaster.

That’s why a low-carbohydrate diet is best and beneficial to your health and well-being. They have been demonstrated to provide a variety of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome, healthier blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and even improved brain function.

good and bad carbs
Cutting out all carbs from your diet can impact health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Good and bad carbs

Simply put, nature provides the best low-carb foods. They have been minimally processed and do not include any unnecessary chemicals, additives, or pesticides. So, while following a low-carb diet, make sure you add only good carbs.

Here are a few of the best items to eat and avoid to minimize carbs without compromising your health.

Good low-carb foods for weight loss:

1. Low-carb vegetables

Although vegetables contain carbs, this does not mean you should avoid them! A healthy diet must include vegetables. Vegetables are high in fibre, so they have fewer net carbohydrates. Loading up on leafy greens and colourful low-carb vegetables helps ensure you get lots of antioxidants to fight disease.

2. Seeds and nuts

These wonder foods are high in healthy fats and nutrients that support health and weight loss.

good and bad carbs
Your diet plays a big role in your health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

They are high in alpha-linolenic acid, which has been found to help the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, as well as mono and polyunsaturated fats, which have been demonstrated to support good blood sugar balance. Chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds, are some low carbohydrate-rich seeds and nuts.

3. Fermented foods

Fermented foods have been a staple in most diets around the world for ages, and with good reason! These foods, such as buttermilk, idli, kimchi, and kombucha, are high in helpful bacteria that aid digestion and gut health. Many of these gut-friendly foods are low in carbohydrates, but read the labels! Kombuchas, in particular, frequently contain extra fruit juice or even sugar for flavour, which greatly boosts the carb content.

Certain items that are also included under low-carb foods are not advisable due to their high carbohydrate content.

Bad low-carb foods

1. Spreads and oils made from vegetables

Refined oils (canola, peanut, maize, soy), margarine, butter spread, and vegetable shortening are a few examples of vegetable oils and spreads.
These industrially processed vegetable fats are frequently hydrogenated, resulting in hazardous trans fats. They are also disproportionately high in omega-6 fatty acids as opposed to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids have also been linked to chronic inflammatory disorders and obesity.

2. Protein snacks

It’s quite obvious that most low-carb protein bars aren’t exactly the perfect healthy food with tastes like birthday cake, cookies and cream, and more.

good and bad carbs
Protein intake will give you the strength to fight diseases. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

These highly processed items contain unnatural ingredients and fillers such as emulsifiers (lecithin, xanthan gum, etc.) that have been found to disrupt the gut flora and may cause intestinal inflammation. In fact, some bars contain ingredients such as almond butter, collagen, and coconut oil. These have fewer additives and are a great option for a packaged low-carb snack on occasion.

3. Diet aerated beverages

Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in ‘diet’ and ‘zero calories’ drinks. Although they are low in net carbs, artificial sweeteners promote sugar cravings and reliance, as well as weight gain. Non-caloric artificial sweeteners also affect the gut microbiota, which can lead to glucose intolerance.

All in all, if you do decide to follow a low-carb diet, make sure it’s mostly made up of whole foods to avoid vitamin deficits and long-term health problems associated with highly processed meals.