Carbohydrates, the Good Guys.

Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.

 

Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.

 

So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from? 

After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal.  If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.

 

What happens if you avoid Carbs:

If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?

 

How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:

  1. Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
  2. Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
  3. Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.

This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.

7 thoughts on “Carbohydrates, the Good Guys.”

  1. I enjoyed the detailed explanation for metabolism of carbohydrates. I too have been asked to talk about low carb diets and feel that they are gaining popularity again which is a little bit worrying.

    In your opinion do you think it is appropriate for an overweight individual to trial a low carb diet for a few weeks to get the weight loss process going?

    1. Thanks for your comment, I’d advise checking portion sizes of carbohydrates and not going “low carb” but small portions at each meal, combined with exercise.

  2. True, carbs are not the bad guys, neither are fats or protein. They are all essential.

    I’m discovering that the ideal proportion of each varies according to the individual. At this point in my life a low-carb diet happens to be right for my health. What happens when I eat high carb food (even whole grain)? Ironically, everything you listed as a result of avoiding carbs and more. What happens when I eat low carb? (carb intake limited to non-starchy veggies and moderate fruit, typical paleo) Optimal energy, relief from pain and inflammation, no cravings.

    Carb intolerant? Maybe. Weight gain is not an issue either way. All I know that low carb is what works for me.

  3. Hi, this was a good clear post detailing the importance of carbs, the way they are broken down and when they can be a problem. It’s important for people to have this knowledge, a number of the individuals that I work with have very mixed messages on carbs and the importance of them in their diet. As you said the key is portion control and making the right selection of carbs.

    Fitnessbuster by Gillian Stephen

  4. Love it! I know that if I can’t make being fit and losing weight fun, I will never get the motivation to do anything healthy. Doing things like taking my dog for a walk or in a nearby mountain area can be a nice change of pace. Anything is better than running around in circles on a track or sitting on a stationary bicycle all day.

    On another note, you can’t just starve yourself or eat bland but healthy food and expect
    to lose weight long-term. If you really want to start losing weight you
    need to go out and find food that is healthy but also tastes good so
    that you will associate eating healthy with something that also tastes great.

    Thanks for taking the time to write all of this.
    It’s very hard to find find good information on health. I know that this is going to help a lot of people!

    1. You are very welcome Vera, thanks for your comments. Yes doing exercise you enjou is always the best way, that’s what I do too.
      Food is meant to be tasty and enjoyed 😉

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