THE CARB WAR

It seems that the world is waging a war on carbohydrates!

Everywhere you look there is somebody either cutting carbs, on a carb free diet, carb cycling or timing their meals around their carb intake- it can all be a little overwhelming. On top of that there is a mass of conflicting advice to wade through and try to interpret, about what is the right type of ‘diet’ for you.

Most of the debate surrounding carbohydrates seems to be focused on the idea that carbs make you gain weight; for the record, I disagree! 

If you eat anything in high enough quantities you will gain weight, whether it be protein, fat or carbohydrate. So let’s take it back to basics; if your energy intake is higher than your energy expenditure you will gain weight, it really is as simple as that, I promise!

However, in saying that there are some points we can follow to help us consume the ‘right’ type of carbs. But first, let me remind you of the role a carbohydrate plays in the human body.         Carbohydrates are the main fuel source of the body. As you consume carbohydrates the body converts them to glucose and glycogen, and stores it in the muscles and liver, but storage capacity is limited. When glycogen stores are at capacity, glucose is stored as fat. Hence the idea that carbohydrates make you ‘fat’.

There are three main groups of carbohydrates:

  1. Nutrient Dense (complex, resistant carbs) - these sources of carbohydrates are also rich in other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre. These include, bread, cereals, legumes, dairy and fruit and vegetables.
  2. Nutrient Poor (simple) – contain carbohydrates but with very little or no other nutrients. These include, soft drinks, energy drinks, carbohydrate gels and lollies.
  3. High- fat carbs- contain carbohydrate but are also high in fat. These include cakes, pastries, chips, and chocolate.

As you can imagine the most useful carbohydrate for the human body is the Nutrient Dense group, and these are the carbohydrate sources that should be consumed most often.

Below are my five tips for healthy carbohydrate consumption:

  1. Consume resistant carbs at every meal

Resistant carbs, as the name suggests, resist digestion, helping us feel fuller for longer and reducing cravings. Try bananas, oats, beans, lentils, whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

  1. Get the balance right

              Your plate should be ¼ resistant carbs, ¼ protein and ½ fruit and veggies.

  1. Watch where you calories come from!

You may be meeting your energy intake, but make sure it is with the right type of carbs. E.g. eating a 600 calorie cake is NOT the same as having a 600 calorie fruit smoothie.

  1. Watch out for those unexpected added sweeteners. 

You will often find sweeteners have been added to foods where you would not expect, like     those handy packs of porridge oats.

 

  1. Do not deprive yourself! 

Telling yourself you can’t have something you want, such as pizza or cake, will ALWAYS result in you indulging in a binge eating session, consuming much more than you usually would. 

Carbohydrates are not the scary nutrients that people seem to think they are, they are essential for the human body to function normally and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you follow the simple tips above you should be able to incorporate the right type of carbs into your diet.


Michael Dunne
Michael Dunne

Author