Carbs get a bad wrap (no pun intended) when anyone wants to lose weight, but before you ditch carbs altogether, here's what you need to know about carbs.
Just like your car needs fuel to make it run, your body needs fuel to make it go. Carbohydrates, found in foods like grains, fruits, legumes, dairy and vegetables, are by far your body's favorite source of energy. An important function of carbs is supplying energy to the brain. If you have ever cut carbs altogether from your diet and felt like your brain was foggy for a few days, then you experienced just how important carbohydrates are to proper brain function.
If your intake of carbs is too low, or you are using them up too quickly, such as during intense exercise, then your body is forced to break down proteins for energy.
Protein is kind of like the backup generator when the primary energy source goes out. It's great that the body has this backup system in place, but when proteins are used up for energy, they are no longer available to do their life-sustaining jobs, like helping with muscle contractions and maintaining muscle and other body tissues.
Carbohydrates also actually help with fat metabolism if they are the right carbs. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, such as oats, release glucose (sugar) gradually into the bloodstream (low GI) which prolongs digestion due to their slow break down and may help with feeling full and less hungry. The right whole grain high fibre low GI carbs also provide dietary fibre to help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and improve digestive health.
The problem is we are eating too many nutrient poor low fibre carbohydrates which store fat when the body has enough energy and result in weight gain as well as other health issues.
If you want to manage your weight and be healthier, these are the slow release carbohydrates you should be eating:
Whole Grain High Fibre Low GI and nutrient dense carbohydrates such as
Wholemeal Cous Cous
Brown and Black Rice
Salad Vegetables and Non Starchy Vegetables
Legumes - chickpeas, lentils, black beans
Nuts and Seeds such as pepitas, sunflower seeds, walnuts and almonds in small quantities as they are high in fat
Handful of Berries - raspberries, blueberries and strawberries for their anti-oxidant properties
If you want to lose weight and be healthier you should be eating very little
Refined Grain, Low Fibre, High GI foods such as:
Regular wholemeal and white bread, crumpets and muffins
Potatoes (excluding sweet potato)
Supermarket Breakfast Cereals
Rice crackers, corn crackers
Dairy (excluding greek yoghurt)
Of course you should also be eating little to none of these
Nutrient poor, Highly Processed, Discretionary foods such as:
Salad dressings (excluding vinegarette)
Biscuits and Crackers
In addition to the guidelines for good carbs that I outlined above, here are some additional rules of thumb regarding serving sizes which may assist in weight management:
Dinner should be a mix of protein, carbohydrates and good fats. Protein should be the size of the palm of your hand. You can fill the perimeter of your plate with non-starchy veggies like carrots, zucchini and broccoli and a small serving (approx 1/2 cup) of mashed sweet potato with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
And Finally....If you or anyone you know is slim but still has that "tyre" around the waist, chances are it's a cortisol tyre. Too much stress means too much cortisol hormone is released, giving you a middle-aged gut no matter how old you are! If your goal is weight loss, make stress management part of your plan.
Hope this helps
Lifestylist Health & Fitness
*this is only my opinion - for specialist advice please see a qualified dietician or nutritionist