How many of you out there truly believe that, in order to lose weight, you need to cut carbs? Do you exclude carbs completing, bread, pasta, rice and in extreme cases, even some fruit and vegetables? Eliminating carbohydrates seems to be the golden ticket to weight loss.
If you are quietly nodding while reading this, you are not alone. If you are reading this while on a carb-restricted diet, then you may be nodding along with this while sneezing and feeling sleepy and stressed, all because you have cut out immune enhancing, energising carbohydrates.
Over the past decade, the reputation of carbohydrates has swung wildly. What was once the diet hero, is now the diet villain. Every fad diet is now carb free, while every balanced eating plan includes a variety of grains, fruit, dairy and vegetables (all carbohydrates). How are you meant to decipher the information when often the views of the specialists differ?
So what’s the answer? Are carbs good or bad for you? Will you lose weight or gain it?
To simplify the situation, let’s divide carbohydrates into three categories; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Good carbohydrates, aka complex carbohydrates, are the preferred energy source due to the length of their carbohydrate chain. The longer series of sugar units requires multiple bodily processes to break down, resulting in sustained energy release and a lower glycaemic load.
In addition to the length of the chain, complex carbohydrates are usually higher in dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals, as the carbohydrate source is usually close to its original source is usually close to its original form. For example, wholegrains have low human interference and hence still contain external layer (bran), the internal layer (endosperm) and the sprouting portion (germ).
Examples of complex carbs, millet, oats, buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, barley, quinoa, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and soybeans.
You have complex carbohydrates and you have simple carbohydrates, if complex is good, then simple is bad. Simple carbohydrates, aka refined carbohydrates have been processed so that only the endosperm remains. The removal of the bran and germ results in the reduction in fibre and nutrients, forming an energy dense, nutrient poor carbohydrate source.
While complex carbs will leave you feeling fuller for longer, simple carbs may leave you feeling hungry sooner, resulting in increasing serving sizes and plummeting blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates often lead to 3:30itis, and the mysterious remnants of cookies on your lips.
There are simple carbs and then are seriously simple carbs. Highly processed foods such as lollies, cakes, cookies and pies provide limited nutritional benefits and are not required in a healthy balanced diet.
However, we appreciate that food plays a bigger role than just being a nutrition transporter. These foods can be included in moderation and should be enjoyed when you do so.
To eat or not to eat?
This breakdown of carbohydrates may have been new to you or you may be familiar with the different carbohydrates. You may already be consuming a diet rich in complex carbs and may still be struggling to lose weight. If this sounds familiar, then listen up.
Carbohydrates are often blamed as the bad guy, as they tend to be a ‘food transporter’ – they carry along other no so nutritious, or high in fat foods.
1. Wholegrain pasta is good; creamy carbonara sauce, not so good.
2. Apples and oats are great; butter that holds a crumble together , not so great.
3. Wholegrain toast is good for you, but it’s what goes on it that is the issue. E.g lashings of butter, jam and Nutella.