14 Complex Carbs to Help Shape Your Best Summer Body Yet

Carb-fearing readers be warned: If you shun them, you're missing out on a key fat-burning tool
quinoa

Photo Modified: Flickr / Pedro Reyna / CC BY 4.0

Quinoa, a relative of spinach and beets, is a complex carb that you can eat plenty of without guilt.

Perhaps the publicity around certain fad diets has led you to believe that carbs are dietary enemy number one. You’ve read the propaganda and watched some videos telling you how to avoid all carbohydrates, and now you’ll only order your burger without a bun. In theory, this sounds great, so why are you still struggling to keep unwanted weight off?

Click here for 14 Complex Carbs to Help Shape Your Best Summer Body Yet.

Many people who attempt a carb-free lifestyle in order to lose weight experience great immediate results, but these results are often short-lived. We’d like to provide an alternative: Eating certain carbohydrates can inspire both fat-loss and muscle growth that will help you get and stay beach-ready for years to come.

If you want to understand how eating carbs can help you lose weight, you first need to understand the difference between two types of carbohydrates. The first type, simple carbohydrates, are the ones that are composed of just one or two sugar molecules. Some examples of foods with simple carbs include white bread, white rice, honey, and candy. Complex carbohydrates are made from three or more of those same simple carbohydrate molecules linked together. We’ll show you some great examples in the slides that follow.

Your body handles the digestion of simple and complex carbs in different ways. Simple carbs are quite easily digestible and quickly absorbed, resulting in a blood sugar spike and a quick, fleeting jolt of energy. These will often convert to glucose and, eventually, appear as fat on the body. Complex carbohydrates take longer for us to digest and absorb, resulting in a steadier, more sustained energy source. Complex carbohydrates contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber than their simpler counterparts, meaning that not only will eating them provide your body with a sustained nutrient flow throughout the day, but also that you will feel fuller from eating them.

Your body will burn off carbohydrates before it tackles fats and proteins. Low-carb diets attempt to take advantage of the carbs-first, fat-second, protein-last order of digestive operation on the theory that if if doesn't have carbs to burn, your body will turn to fat as fuel. While this is tempting as a quick way to shed some excess weight, you’ll find more weight-loss success by focusing on consuming moderate amounts of complex carbs with your meals and avoiding simple carbs (especially that devilish sugar) as often as possible. Additionally, complex carbs will help you to fuel for and recover from arduous workouts.

You’ll usually be able to spot the difference between complex and simple carbs as readily as you can identify whether something is from the earth or from a factory. Simple carbs will look like a human played some part in their creation. More often than not, a simple carb placed next to its complex cousin will look lackluster (e.g. white bread next to Ezekiel bread). A lot of complex carbohydrates can be found in the produce section, unbound by human packaging.

Regardless of where they’re found in the grocery store, deciding to eat any of the following complex carbohydrates can help you achieve your best summer body yet.

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