Carbohydrates are a controversial food these days, which leaves many people to assume that all carbs are bad and that they should be avoiding them if they want to lose weight. While it's certainly beneficial to avoid processed and refined carbohydrates as they create hormonal distress, avoiding all carbohydrates can do more harm than good.
The thyroid gland plays a major role in weight maintenance and depends on adequate fuel intake in order to maintain it's functions. For some women, a very low-carb diet triggers "danger signals" in the brain. In fact, numerous research studies have suggested that low-carbohydrate diets can lower the thyroids production of T3. Our bodies are designed for survival, and restricting carbs can cause metabolism to slow down in order to conserve energy.
Certain low-carb diets work on the premise of restricting carbs for so many days and then having "carb-up" days in order to jump-start the thyroid. This works for some people, but for most, this can be difficult to maintain and feel too restrictive.
A more balanced approach to carbohydrates helps to promote hormone balance by avoiding stress signals and keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Here are some ways to include carbohydrates in your diet without the worry of weight gain:
Eat your beans
Legumes and beans are excellent sources of plant-based protein. They help to keep blood sugar stable because they're loaded with fiber. They also provide protective phytoestrogens that help reduce the harmful effects of environmental endocrine disrupters, and help eliminate harmful estrogen metabolites. Throw them in soups and salads a few times a week.
Limit fruit in-take
Many people are under the impression that they can eat fruits freely because they're healthy. I see this especially in the case of children - parents proudly raving about how little Timmy just loves fruit and eats them all day long. Fruit is still sugar meant to be utilized as a quick source of energy. While they contain incredible phytochemicals, vitamins, and enzymes, if consumed too often, especially when not balanced with adequate fats and protein, they can contribute to blood sugar instability. Stick with low-GI options and limit them to 1-2 servings a day. Think of fruit as more of a treat.
Eat gut-friendly carbs
These carbohydrates feed the beneficial bacteria found in our guts. These are your resistant starches such as oats, spelt, rye, brown rice, quinoa, squash and potatoes. These help with weight loss by improving metabolism, whole body insulin sensitivity, increase satiety, and reduce fat storage. As a bonus, eat them in the evening to help with sleep.
Strictly limit refined carbohydrates
It's ok to have a cookie, but choosing the right kind of cookie is key. The cookie was never the problem, its the refined cookie made from white flour, white sugar and very little nutrient density that's the problem. Make your own cookies using whole flours such as almond flour, oat flour, or brown rice flour and add extra nutrients by adding things like nuts and seeds to the recipe for a healthy dose of fats and protein. Limit the serving to 1 or 2 to avoid overdoing it.
Skip/limit them at breakfast
Instead of having a grain or legume based breakfast, lean more towards good quality protein and fat. This helps to avoid blood sugar crashes and helps to keep you satisfied until your next meal without cravings or feeling tired. Bottom line, in healthy individuals a more balanced approach to carbohydrates is a better choice than restricting carbs. Carbohydrates provide us with many vitamins and minerals and if strictly avoided for too long can leave us deficient in these beneficial nutrients. Resources:
To treat or not to treat drug-refractory epilepsy by the ketogenic diet? That is the question.Changes of thyroid hormonal status in patients receiving ketogenic diet due to intractable epilepsy.Hormonal and metabolic changes induced by an isocaloric isoproteinic ketogenic diet in healthy subjects.Isocaloric carbohydrate deprivation induces protein catabolism despite a low T3-syndrome in healthy men.
Resistant starch: metabolic effects and potential health benefits.
Consumption of both resistant starch and beta-glucan improves postprandial plasma glucose and insulin in women.
Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in metabolic syndrome.