Why People Who Eat These Carbs In The Morning Struggle To Lose Weight
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This story has been updated to include more expert insight since it was originally published on 11/18/2021
Contrary to popular belief, carbs aren't all bad. Certain ones, like those found in whole grains and vegetables, are packed with fiber that will fill you up for the day without adding calories. This can help eliminate hunger pangs throughout the day, so these foods can work wonders for weight loss — they're practically a nutritionist's dream morning meal. But other carbohydrates, i.e. refined ones, do almost exactly the opposite. Because of this, eating these refined carbs in the morning can hold you back from achieving your weight loss goals.
To learn more, we spoke to Balance One Supplements Nutritionist Trista Best MPH, RD, LD and Functional Medicine Well Health Advisor Kelsey Mauro. They told us what happens to the body when you eat refined carbohydrates like pancakes and muffins for breakfast:
First things first: in order to understand how refined carbohydrates affect your body and lead to weight gain, it is important to understand what exactly they are. “Foods made with refined carbohydrates are those that have undergone a processing step in which some of the grain's nutrients are removed and synthetically added back in,” explains Best, noting that “this process reduces and leads to beneficial nutrients that they take on a form that the body quickly processes." Mauro lists bagels, donuts, pastries, crackers, white toast, and light-colored, sugary cereals as some of the worst culprits.
When our body doesn't take a long time to consume the carbohydrates we eat, a glucose spike and an insulin response is to be expected. "Eating refined carbs for breakfast slows down weight loss because these carbs are easily digested by your body, which can quickly cause your blood sugar to spike and stimulate cravings, leading to more overeating," explains Mauro. This can lead to serious health consequences, especially when trying to lose weight. "This will ultimately result in the body storing weight more easily and becoming less sensitive to insulin," warns Best.
Over time, starting the morning with refined carbohydrates can even lead to diabetes. But regardless, it's never a good way to start the day. "Eating these forms of carbohydrates in the morning can be harmful because they dictate the rest of the day," says Best.
There is one more health issue that cannot be avoided; Best warns that refined carbohydrates also "can wreak havoc on the body through gut dysbiosis and inflammation." Here's how it works: The imbalance between gut bacteria and inflammation causes your metabolism to slow down as it compensates for the presence of chronic inflammation.
"Gut dysbiosis also affects your ability to lose weight and maintain your weight loss," she says. "If the digestive quality is disturbed, the nutrients important for the metabolism are not absorbed."
The Worst Carbs You Shouldn't Eat Because They Cause Inflammation and Weight Gain
So – what should you eat instead? "Instead of relying on refined carbohydrates for breakfast, turn to lean proteins and whole grains," advises Best.
Nutritionist Amy Adams, RDN, LDN offers similar advice. "I recommend choosing a breakfast that's high in vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, peppers, and protein like eggs," she says.
“You can add carbs, but stick to something like whole fruit or dairy like Greek yogurt. The fiber from vegetables and fruits helps slow blood sugar spikes, and the protein helps your food digest more slowly and helps you avoid a big sugar spike," concludes Adams. Sounds delicious — and healthy!
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