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The Carbohydrate debate

 

Good carbsbad carbs

Much debate has been documented and reported that carbs are bad for you, carbs make you put on weight.  Confused?  Well let me explain a little bit.  In this blog I will explain the good sides and the bad sides to carbs and why some are important to your diet.  So if you are confused about whether carbs are good or bad for you then read on……

 First things first some carbs are not bad for you!!!  However choosing the right kinds of carbs is very important for health, wellness and even weight loss.  So heres the science, the human body uses carbs most efficiently for energy production (as opposed to fats and proteins).  So there really isn’t any reason to avoid carbs but there is a big difference between the normal, wholesome good carbs we are designed to eat and the unnatural (although tasty) highly processed refined carbs.  These bad carbs are contributing to a health crisis in the forms of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers.

 Choosing good carbs is the key to looking and feeling your best, simply put if your diet is based around healthy, natural carbs rather than the unhealthy processed carbs – you will feel the benefit.

 Please remember that carbs give you energy and provide many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health, see the right ones are good for you.

 Good carbs are unprocessed carbohydrates in their ‘natural state’ or very close to their natural state.  In other words they have been minimally altered by man or machine i.e. not out of a packet more like out of the ground.  Pretty much all ‘leafy’ green vegetables and fruit are good carbs.  Beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are also included in the good carb category.  Finally wholegrain cereals including wholegrain breads and pastas are also ‘good’ carbs in moderation.  These types of carbs provide a slower and more sustained release of energy than bad carbs and in their natural form they contribute to long-term health gains, appetite control and sustained energy levels.

 Reason you should be eating good carbs:

  • High in fibre – helps you stay fuller for longer
  • Low GI: low glycemic index which stabilizes blood sugar levels and insulin
  • High in nutrients
  • Low ‘energy-density’: which provides sustained energy, promotes healthy weight loss and long-term weight management

 To sum up what good carbs are, have a look at this list below (picture 1 at the top of the blog):

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fruit (try to not consume to much though as they contain a lot of natural sugar)
  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole cereals, breads, cereals, flour, pasta and rice
  • Oats
  • Root vegetables

 Ok so onto the bad (boo!!!!) carbs.  These are refined processed carbohydrates that have all or most of their natural nutrients and fibre removed in order to make them more consumer friendly.  Most baked goods, white breads, white pastas, snack foods, sweets and soft drinks fit into this category.  Bleached, enriched white flour and white sugar are the most common ingredients used to make bad carbs.

 These carbs are harmful mainly because the human body is not able to process them very well.  Most of the processed carbs we eat wreak havoc on our natural hormone levels.  Insulin production is thrown out of sync as the body attempts to process the huge amounts of starches and simple sugars contained in a bad-carb based meal (i.e. white pastas, white bread etc).  This leads to dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels – a big reason you feel tired after eating these bad carb meals.

 Examples of bad carbs and sugary (simply carb) bad foods (picture 2 at the top of the blog):

  • Biscuits, pastries and cakes
  • Pizzas
  • Sugary processed breakfast cereals
  • White bread, flour, pasta, rice
  • Chocolate
  • Honey and jams
  • Jellies
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Soft drinks
  • Sweets and snack bars

 So if you believe that good carbs make you fat please read on.  Obviously bad carbs will make you fat especially in the form of sweets and chocolate but good carbs gram for gram contain less calories than fat, protein and alcohol.  Please remember that eating too much of any food will lead to weight gain, regardless of what food you get your energy from.  Also keep active.  If you are aiming to lose weight then by all means swap your bad carbs for good carbs but hit the gym, get yourself active in the outdoors as this will speed up the weight loss process and increase your energy levels, fitness levels and confidence.

Tips for healthy eating:

  • Your daily diet should be a balance of good carbs and protein
  • Base each of your meals on a complex carb such as potato, sweet potato, wholemeal bread or pasta and include vegetables.  Ensure your protein is lean also
  • Use high fibre wholegrain cereals as part of your breakfast or wholemeal bread for your toast
  • Large carb meals will make you sleepy and slow so save a big carb meal for the evening
  • Cut down on the amount of refined white flour products in your diet, such as white bread, pizza, pasta and rice.  The refining process produces a simple carbohydrate and many vitamins and minerals are lost.
  • Remember fruit is naturally high in sugar as are fruit juices and smoothies so limit these to your diet.  Choose more vegetables to gain your 5 a day.

Happy eating, any questions please feel free to leave comments.


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