Carbs are NOT the enemy
For years I virtually eliminated foods high in carbohydrates from my diet as it was drummed into me that they were not of a good nutritional value and would promote weight gain (and I know I’m not alone here!). I see articles in the media all the time promoting high protein, low carb diets for weight loss when actually, the most important issue for fat/weight loss is simply calorie control. To simplify, this is controlling how many calories we consume and aligning this with how much energy we expend. If calorie intake > energy expenditure (calories out) = weight gain. If calorie intake < energy expenditure = weight loss. Simple. So yes, carbs could contribute to weight gain if you eat them in unnecessarily large quantities but so will too much of any food group!
Focusing on staying on point with your calories and protein intake is number 1 in importance, the amount of carbohydrates you consume alongside this doesn’t actually matter an awful lot.
should be included as part of a balanced diet
- Carbs, when broken down into glucose, are the bodies main source of energy/fuel and are also a great source of nutrients (vital vitamins and minerals).
- Your brain can only use glucose as a form of energy so with sufficient carbs your ability to think, learn and remember will decrease because neurotransmitter in the brain will not have enough glucose to synthesis and function properly.
- Good carbs like whole-grains, fruits and veg are a good source of fibre which keep bowel movements regular, keeping the body’s mechanism of eliminating waste efficient and reducing that bloating feeling.
- Carbs also make us happy! They contain tryptophan which helps produce the feel-good hormone, Serotonin, in our brain.
- Despite numerous myths, carbs should make up between 45-65% of your total daily calories intake in order to give you enough energy for daily activities.
Choosing the right carbs
The healthiest sources are those that are unprocessed (or minimally processed) whole-grains, rye, barley, quinoa, vegetables, fruits and beans which are nutrient rich, delivering important vitamins, minerals and fiber to the body. Choose fresh, colourful fruits, vegetables and leafy greens as an carb source to each meal to ensure you are getting the desired vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support optimal health and blood sugar control!
Stay away (for the majority of time) from highly refined carbs like fries, cakes, white bread and white pasta. These are also known as ‘empty carbs’ or ‘empty calories’ and are typically:
- Highly processed
- Have added chemicals and sugars
- Have added synthetic vitmains and minerals after processing
- Often higher in fat and calories
- Often higher amount of carb in one serving (meaning you can eat less of it before reaching daily carb intake)
- Found mainly in packages
So, in summary, carbs are an essential part of your diet so don’t avoid them! Just be wise with your choices and fuel your body with (mostly) nutrient rich sources in the required amounts but don’t be afraid to indulge in the odd treat!