Carbohydrates*

Friday, 20 May 2016, By Sarah Camilleri

The body cannot survive without carbohydrates as it is recommended that 50% of our calorie intake is from a carbohydrate source, though carbohydrates have been getting bad press lately they are essential in ones diet.

 

In fact, while it has been claimed that carbs are fattening and unhealthy, a diet high in whole grains (carbohydrate-rich) has been associated with lower BMI, smaller waist size and decreased risk of being overweight.

 

BUT! NOT ALL CARBS ARE CREATED EQUAL…

Yes, carbs contain 4 calories per gram of energy, but they don't all provide the same kind of nutrients. Carbs can be referred to as either 'whole/comlpex' or refined/simple' and this is where we learn to tell which carbs are good and which carbs are rubbish.

 

WHOLE CARBS = WHOLEGRAINS, FRUITS, VEGETABLES, POTATOES, LEGUMES

  • - Plenty of nutrients and fibre
  • - Decreased risk of heart disease and colon cancer, weight control, helps regulate blood sugar levels, increased satiety levels (feeling fuller for longer)

 

REFINED CARBS = REFINED CARBOHYDRATES SUCH AS WHITE BREAD, PRODUCTS WITH ADDED SUGAR LIKE SOFT DRINKS, FRUIT JUICES, PASTRIES

  • - Added calories, blood sugar spikes followed by energy/ mood crashes, often lack other healthful nutrients ('empty calories')
  • - Linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes and a host of other problems

 

HOW TO CHOOSE:

1.     Read the label ➔ aim for foods where the majority of the percentage of carbs is from carbohydrate themselves, not sugar. Look for foods where added sugar and syrup, or other sweeteners, are near the end of the ingredients list or not even on it! Ingredients are listed in order of quantity so try to ensure unwanted ingredients are always low on the list.

 

2.     Glycaemic Index ➔ ranks foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels

➔ foods with a lower GI release glucose (aka sugar) into the bloodstream slowly and hence produce longer, more sustained energy.

➔ foods with a high GI release glucose quickly, producing energy spikes, which are often followed by a rapid dip in energy levels, as well as less satiety and increased cravings.

 

3.     Aim for foods have a high fibre content (this is often listed on the food information panel), that have wholegrains, whole wheat or whole wheat flour high on the ingredients list.

 

CHOOSE WISELY!

So remember, you don't have to avoid carbs to control your weight, and they certainly aren't all unhealthy! BUT you definitely should choose WISELY; if you are going to get around 50% of your daily calories from this macronutrient then it's in your best interest to get it from nutrient dense, healthful sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes and wholegrains.

Aim for WHOLE, not refined.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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