Carbs or No Carbs, That is the Question!

There’s often debate about how much carb we should be having in our diets. Some people even if think we should cut them out completely. Have you wondered about this?

If you have, it’s important to know carbohydrates are the main fuel for our body, we need at least 50g of quality carbs a day just for brain function.

We can find carbs in many items including:

  1. Breads and cereals
  2. Pasta, rice, noddles, cous-cous, quinoa
  3. Fruits, juices, purees and smoothies
  4. Starchy vegetables
  5. Legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
  6. Milk and yogurt,
  7. Lollies, chocolate, ice cream, crisps…
  8. Sauces, packaged spice mixes and much more

Sounds mind blowing doesn’t it? Well it won’t be once you understand these few simple tips!

First, there are different types of carbs:

That’s right, NOT all carbs are BAD, there are different types with different actions in the body. So, we want to have the best quality carbs in our diet when we’re looking after our wellbeing, and our family’s.

Carbs are classified as:

  1. Simple Sugars – (if you read labels these include glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose) this type of carb is easily digested and rapidly absorbed in the body for energy and if not used converts to fat. Foods include lollies, cakes, pastries, added sugars in foods, soda, juices,
  2. Starch – is a type of carb referred to as a complex carb and is found in many plant-based foods including peas, corn, potatoes, corn, beans, legumes and whole grains. Some foods also have resistant starch, the best type that helps heal your gut, these include artichokes, banana.
  3. Fibre – in food labels, did you know fibre counts as a carb? Fibre is the roughage of most plant foods and the type of carb your body doesn’t break down to an energy source (This is the good stuff!)

You guessed it; the sugars are the ones we really want to move out of our diets and the starches we want to limit, but we need more fibre-based carbs, this is your green leafy vegetables!

Why should we limit the amount of carbs we eat?

The amount of carbs you eat will  increase the sugar levels in your blood and the type will tell you how fast they break down in the body, and this is what we call glycaemic load (GL) and glycaemic index (GI). Having too much sugar in the blood can lead to weight gain, fatigue and poor health such as diabetes and heart disease. But its not all doom and gloom, because you can change your diet behaviours, even if you start with choosing the right types of carbs!

This is a complex topic and if you want more information and tips on the GL and GI of foods, check this out – it’s a ‘swap it’ tool to help you choose better quality carbs Swap It – Glycaemic Index Foundation (gisymbol.com).

What are the additional BENEFITS of ‘right’ CARBS?

  • In our body, the brain and muscle use carbs as a source of energy.
  • Some of these carbs are rich in different types fibre, benefiting our gut health.
  • Due to the fibre content of some, they can make you feel more satisfied with your food and choosing the right types can help control your weight.
  • Also due to fibre content, they can help to decrease the amount of sugar or cholesterol that you absorb.
  • If used as part of a total diet, they can give more lasting energy and can readily store in your muscle and liver to be used as energy when needed for exercise.

HOWEVER

An excess of the wrong types of carbs across the day, with low or no exercise, can lead to an increase in your weight and can also lead to a fatty liver and fatigue.

For this reason, you will see many fad diets that eliminate carbs completely. But this can result in a loss of mainly muscle mass and water levels in your body – and eventually a regain in weight. The trick is getting the right balance and right proportions to fit your diet and lifestyle.

So, what to do?

Simple start-up tips include:

  • Stop sugar sweetened beverages, including juices and energy drinks!
  • Build your dinner plate by using veggies in place of pasta, rice, and noodles.
  • Cut back on breads, rolls, and wraps.
  • Choose nuts as your snacks, 40g a day in a balanced diet is a good start!

If you’re wanting more personalised support to help work out how many serves of carbs per day you need, and help adapt to a low carb way of eating, you can see Dietitian, Marcela Velasquez-Villa, for more information and advice tailored to your needs by calling us on 82781111, or booking online here.

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