Carbohydrates get a bad rep in the weight loss industry, especially in January when diet culture tends to create a sense of fear and confusion around this important macronutrient. With so much conflicting advice being thrown around, we wanted to help answer some of the common carb questions that we have been asked by our customers over the years here at Gourmet Fuel.
Are all carbohydrates the same?
Not all carbs were created equal. They are split into three categories: sugar, starch, and fibre.
- Starch: Sources of starchy carbohydrates include food like: bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and grains.
- Sugar: The carbohydrates in foods like sweets, sugary drinks and jam come from simple sugars. We also find some naturally occurring simple sugars in fruit, vegetables and dairy.
- Fibre: Good sources of fibre include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains.
When choosing your carbohydrate sources, aim for the starchy or high fibre varieties as these have the greatest health benefits and contain a wealth of important nutrients!
Why do I need carbohydrates?
- Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred source of energy for fuelling our brain, muscle and organs.
- Fibre, a form of carbohydrate, is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. It can promote good digestive health, reduce the risk of constipation, help maintain a healthy weight and some forms of fibre have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The recommended amount of fibre to be consumed depends on the calories consumed, but the generally accepted figure is 25-30g per day. This may seem like a lot but our Falafel Salad Wrap with Taco Sauce has 10g of fibre in one wrap! You’re over a third of the way there after just one meal.
- Certain types of carbohydrate-containing foods, particularly whole grains, oats, fruit and vegetables, also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. One of these nutrients found in wholegrains is B-vitamins which are vital for a whole host of metabolic processes, including energy levels, and need to be consumed regularly in the diet as they are not stored in the body.
Is it possible to follow a carb-free diet?
It is practically impossible to eat a ‘zero carb’ or carb-free diet. In short, most foods will contain trace amounts of carbohydrate and even the most extreme ketogenic diet allows for some carbs. Furthermore, fully eliminating carbohydrates from your diet can lead to a range of health issues including low energy, poor digestion, constipation, high cholesterol and micronutrient deficiencies.
Can I still achieve my weight loss goals if I include carbs in my diet?
Yes you can! Carbohydrates have fewer calories per gram than fat or protein (4kcal per gram for carbs versus 9kcals for fat) and fibre in particular can keep you full for longer thus aiding with portion and calorie control.
Should I cut out sugar from my diet completely to lose weight?
Sugar is found naturally in many healthy foods such a fruit and vegetables, so cutting out sugar completely is an unhealthy and restrictive approach. There’s no denying that too much added sugar is bad for our health and is associated with weight gain, but instead of following the all-or-nothing approach, why not aim to reduce your sugar intake from sugary foods and drinks to less than 7 sugar cubes/teaspoons per day.
Take home message
Carbohydrates are not something to be feared, rather something that needs to be cherished and recognised for all of the positive effects they have on our energy levels, brain health, digestive health and our taste buds!
If you're still not convinced or have some more burning questions about your diet and carbs, we're here to help you understand what amount and type of carbohydrate is best for you. Our team of registered nutritionists will go through your present diet and lifestyle, identify strengths and weaknesses so that together we can design a macro-balanced plan to help you reach and maintain a healthy body weight!