Carbohydrates that are less refined, or "good carbs," such as those found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, provide more nutrients and health benefits than refined carbohydrates, or "bad carbs." For the best weight loss results, pair protein with good carbs and limit the bad carbs, including foods made with refined grains and added sugars.
Good Carbs and Weight
An article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in May 2011 states that, compared to those who eat mainly refined grains, people who eat more whole grains tend to weigh less and may be less likely to carry fat around their stomach, which is the most unhealthy type of fat. High-fiber foods may decrease the absorption of macronutrients, such as fat and carbohydrates, so you don't absorb as many calories from your food, according to a March 2005 article in "Nutrition." This may help you maintain your weight or lose weight.
The Fullness Factor
Pair your carbohydrates with protein, because protein is more filling than carbohydrates and fat. Good carbs are more filling than bad carbs because they are lower in energy density and higher in fiber. Foods that are low in energy density don't have many calories per gram, allowing you to eat a greater volume of food while still staying within your calories for the day. It is the volume of food you eat that causes you to feel full, not the amount of calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High-fiber foods are filling because they add bulk to your diet and slow the emptying of your stomach.
Proper Proportions and Timing
Eating more protein and less carbohydrates may help you improve your cholesterol levels and maintain your muscle mass during weight loss, according to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in February 2003. Study participants who ate 1.4 times as many carbohydrates as protein lowered their triglyceride levels and lost a higher proportion of body fat compared to participants who got the same amount of calories from a diet with 3.5 times as many carbohydrates as protein. You may also be better off eating most of your carbohydrates at dinner rather than spreading them more equally throughout the day, according to a study published in "Obesity" in October 2011. Eating this way helped people feel fuller, improve cholesterol and blood glucose levels and experience greater losses in both body fat and weight.
Increasing Health Benefits
Replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates may actually increase your heart disease risk, but replacing this bad fat with good carbs may decrease your risk, according to an article published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in June 2010. Just as the type of carbohydrates chosen is important if you want to improve your heart health, so is the type of protein. Red and processed meats may increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes, but low-fat dairy, chicken, fish and soy may lower your risk for heart disease, according to an article published in the same journal in July 2005.
- Obesity: Greater Weight Loss and Hormonal Changes After 6 Months Diet With Carbohydrates Eaten Mostly at Dinner
- Weight-Control Information Network: Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Carbohydrates
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger and Weight Management: Controlling Hunger
- Nutrition: Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
- The Journal of Nutrition: Putting the Whole Grain Puzzle Together: Health Benefits Associated With Whole Grains—Summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management, and Satiety
- The Journal of Nutrition: A Reduced Ratio of Dietary Carbohydrate to Protein Improves Body Composition and Blood Lipid Profiles During Weight Loss in Adult Women
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Body Weight, and Cardiovascular Health
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Are Refined Carbohydrates Worse Than Saturated Fat?