Clean-Eating, Carbs & Weight Loss
The clean-eating lifestyle is perfectly suited to both weight-loss and maintaining weight-loss. Whether or not to eat carbs is a common clean-eating question from people who want to lose weight, and it can be a confusing topic. In order to make things easier, it can be helpful to divide carbs into the following three categories:
1. Simple carbs – e.g. white bread, white pasta, white rice, white sugar, baked goods made with white flour
Simple carbs are not nutrient dense; in other words, they provide a lot of calories whilst offering relatively few nutritional benefits. Simple carbs also tend to be overeaten, and since they provide empty calories, overeating them can quickly lead to weight gain. For this reason, if you are clean-eating to lose weight, you should avoid eating simple refined carbs.
2. Unprocessed Complex Carbs – e.g. vegetables, including potatoes, unprocessed wholegrains (such as quinoa, millet, black rice, barley) and lentils
Complex carbohydrates provide a sustained source of energy for the body. These carbohydrates are nutrient dense; they provide energy at the same time as providing quality nutrients for the body. Complex carbohydrates are filling and stop you from feeling hungry between meals and snacks, they also provide numerous other health benefits including supporting heart health and preventing some types of cancer. If you are clean-eating to lose weight, you should eat a portion of complex, unprocessed carbohydrates with every meal, to provide the body with a sustained energy boost and prevent tiredness and cravings.
3. Minimally processed complex carbs – e.g. brown rice, wholemeal couscous, wholemeal pasta, wholegrain bread
What is the problem with bread and other minimally processed carbohydrates? It’s easy to eat too much of them! If you eat too many carbohydrates, of any kind, you may take in more energy/calories than you can work off, and this will prevent weight loss. Because it is so easy to overeat bread, pasta and rice, if you are clean-eating for weight-loss, it is advisable to stick to only one portion of minimally processed carbohydrates a day.
To lower the processed carb count of your diet, you could try these carb swaps:
– Swap spaghetti for spiralized carrots, squash or courgettes
– Swap pasta for roasted, boiled or steamed vegetables
– Experiment with breadless sandwiches
– Swap rice for cauliflower rice
– Swap lunchtime sandwiches for homemade soups
Clean-eating and weight loss go hand-in-hand very naturally. However, in order to effectively lose weight, and maintain weight-loss, you should: avoid simple, refined carbs (bad); eat minimally processed carbs in moderation (better); and eat complex, unprocessed carbs with every meal (best).