If you believed everything you read on the internet revolving the huge debates on what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you, you’d be left very confused over what you should and should not eat.
In today’s society, many people are afraid of carbs with the belief that they are ‘bad’ for us and eating too many will make us fat.
Let’s start by asking ourselves, what are carbs?
Carbs are found in a wide array of ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ foods from potatoes, beans and milk, to popcorn, cookies and cheesecake. They also come in a variety of forms, the most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibres and starches.
So, what happens when we eat carbs?
Eating carbs causes a spike in our blood sugar levels which results in a surge of insulin. Insulin then transports all the extra sugar into our fat cells, which, in the long-term, can lead to obesity. Over time, our organs become resistant to insulin and we are vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and high blood pressure……. All of this is true. However, it could also be said that foods high in carbs are an important part of a healthy diet as they provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy and used to support bodily functions and physical activity. Yes, I know, confusing!!!! As you can see, it’s not quite so simple and the reason for this is because not all carbs are created equally.
What’s most important is the type of carb you choose to eat because some types of carb-rich foods are better than others. The unhealthiest sources of carbs include white bread, pastries, fizzy drinks and other highly processed and refined foods. These items contain easily digested carbs that may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss and promote diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. On the other hand, the healthiest sources of carbs are the unprocessed or minimally processed beans, vegetables, fruits etc. Such sources of carbs promote good health by delivery vitamins, minerals, fibre and a whole host of other important phytonutrients.
So, more on these unrefined carbs…
These foods generate gentle, moderate rises in blood glucose and insulin, giving a small but long-lasting supply of energy to our muscles. Don’t get me wrong, if you eat too much of something or eat it too quickly, this will still result in a blood sugar spike. However, in moderate quantities, you can still eat carbs without bulging out of your favourite skinny jeans! YES, it is possible to eat a healthy diet without the fear of carbs!
So, what are these magical carbs that don’t make you fat…
Pretty much anything you find in nature! Below is a list of the key sources:
Yes some of you may be thinking… but my personal trainer has told me to limit the amount of fruit I eat if I want to lose weight because it’s high in sugar! Yes, fruit does have a relatively high sugar content in comparison to other foods. However, you can continue to lose weight even whilst eating fruit, so long as you don’t pig out on it! The sugar found in fruit is known as Fructose. In large quantities, this can be harmful to the body, not because it raises the blood sugar, but because the liver converts it into fat. However, the relatively small amounts of fructose found in whole fruits is nothing to be worried about. Just don’t binge on it!!!!!
Ok, so here, I’m talking about real rolled oats, not the pre-sweetened varieties you find laden on the cereal aisle in Tesco that should be classed as a dessert rather than a healthy breakfast. Real, rolled oats are high in fibre and low calorie… perfect!
Now this is another one to be careful with. Many people think they are doing themselves a favour by reaching for the ‘low-fat’ yoghurt option. However, once the fat has been taken out of such products, they add sugar back in to sweeten it up and make it taste nice again. Hidden added sugars like these are the ones you need to look out for as they will make that waistline of yours grow, so next time you’re doing the weekly Tesco shop READ THE LABELS CAREFULLY! Before I forget, there are most twists and turns with this one as the nutrition labels fail to distinguish between added sugar (sucrose or fructose) and naturally occurring sugar such as lactose. So long as you’re buying the unsweetened dairy products, those jeans will fit just fine!
Beans and lentils
Although beans are rich in carbohydrates, the majority of this is fibre so don’t worry! Like beans, lentils are also full of fibre and are slow to digest, thus keeping you fuller for longer!
Many people claim to dislike brown rice and refuse to wait the 30+ minutes cooking time but be patient! Cook it properly and it serves as a tasty and satisfying addition to almost every meal, be that salads, stir fries, curries etc.
KEEN-WAH, Qu-i-noa, however you want to pronounce it, is technically a seed and not a grain. Nevertheless, it is a great source of protein, fibre and iron and cooks in less than 10 minutes. I sometimes substitute my rice dishes with quinoa because I love its nutty flavour!
This may come as a surprise, but in moderate amounts, potatoes will not make you fat! They are high in iron, vitamin C and B6, making them a healthy alternative to other starchy products. Just be sure to cook them in healthy oils rather than the processed vegetable oils and don’t go overboard with them!
To summarise, not all carbs are bad carbs! In other words, when eaten in moderate amounts they will not make you fat and I promise those jeans will still fit! It’s like with all foods, anything eaten in excess, overtime, will make you fat! Keep in mind that it’s more important to eat carbs from healthy foods rather than to follow a strict diet limiting or counting the number of grams of carbs consumed!
If you’re wanting to lose weight the sensible and sustainable way, speak to one of the 80/20 team who will be more than happy to discuss a diet plan with you.