We’ve all heard the once hailed answer to health and weight loss: cutting carbohydrates. There are so many diets out there such as the Atkins that impose a strict no carbohydrates rule, responsible for bringing about the widespread misconception that carbohydrates make you gain weight. However, the view that all carbohydrates should be cut from your diet is quite simply wrong. Carbohydrates provide the largest single source of energy in the diet, with most being broken down into glucose, and used as energy. Carbohydrates can also be turned into fat (stored energy) for later use.
There are so many misconceptions about carbohydrates out there, which is why many people often put a label on all carbohydrates as being bad! Many carb-containing foods are in fact very healthy, such as fruits and vegetables that provide a variety of nutrients. Complex carbohydrates are in the natural, fibre-rich form which digest slowly, keeping you fuller longer. On the flip side, simple carbohydrates have been stripped of the fibre, which often making you reach for snacks quicker.
I put together my four guidelines on carbohydrates to replace popular misconceptions with accurate facts and information.
- BE CARB CONSCIOUS
Of course, there is definitely the case of reducing what we know as refined carbohydrates, found in white breads and pasta for instance. Opt instead for complex carbohydrates, which as explained earlier, are your carbohydrates in natural form. Think choices like wholegrain bread and rice which release energy more slowly. What I like to portray is that instead of carbohydrates, think about grains, as it makes it far simpler to understand and remember. By making a simple swap, you’ll be surprised how your body reacts and how energised you will be when swapping from refined carbohydrates.
- NOT ALL CARBS ARE CREATED EQUAL
As I spoke about earlier, carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for both your brain and body. Complex carbohydrates are firstly a great source of vitamins and fibre, but they also keep your digestive system in tip top condition and blood sugar levels steady. There are so many good, wholesome, starchy carbohydrates on offer including wholegrain pasta, sweet potatoes, wholegrain rice and quinoa. Refined carbohydrate foods like pastries and white bread are usually lacking in essential nutrients, therefore should be ate every now and then.
- CARBS MAKE YOU HAPPY
What you may be surprised to know is that on a scientific level, carbohydrates do in fact make us happy! They play an important role in creating serotonin in the brain, AKA the happy hormone. Therefore, when you following strict diet regimes that cut carbohydrates, you will notice that you may often suffer from severe mood swings, and may struggle with concentration levels.
- LOSING OUT IN THE LONG-TERM
While weight loss can be experienced initially from a no-carbohydrate diet, the sustainability and maintenance is practically impossible. We should all be aiming for a balanced diet, as each nutrient is essential for the body. Not only carbohydrates, but no single macro or micronutrient should ever be completely cut out of your diet. If you are looking for weight loss, portion control and a bit of extra physical activity is a better route and far more realistic in the long-term for mind and body.
Now you know the fact from the myth, introducing small changes into your diet like swapping refined carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates will seem more maintainable, as now there is no need to ever cut out carbohydrates from your diet. Plus, a little bit of what you fancy is good for both mind and body. A slice of white bread really isn’t the end of the world- just try and opt for the other variety the majority of the time!