In the dieting industry, carbohydrate is a dirty word. In the last five years or so the good old carbohydrate has taken a real bashing from fad diets and other weight loss ‘miracle workers’. Apart from the fact that it’s a food group, do you really know what a carbohydrate is, or why and how it’s utilised by the body? If you’re someone that wants to loose weight, then you should definitely take the time to educate yourself about the different types of food groups and how they interact with your body. Despite the fact that it’s had its name dragged through the mud, we’re here to tell you that carbohydrates are not only an acceptable food to be eating, but is a food that you should definitely be eating.
Carbohydrates are found in loads of different types of foods, some of the more common ones are foods such as breads, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes etc. The carbohydrate is a complicated food group and comes in a variety of forms and levels. Like with fats, there are ‘good carbs’ and ‘bad carbs’.
The bad carbohydrates are called simple carbs. These little buggers are released into the bloodstream and digested rather quickly. Simple carbohydrates often contain refined and processed sugars (like chocolate bars) but can also be naturally occurring, like honey for example. Simple carbs have little nutritional value and contain very few essential vitamins and minerals (and are often jam packed full of unwanted calories).
The good carbohydrates are what we call complex carbs. These carbohydrates are released and digested much slower by the body and are usually loaded with fibre as well as contain a range of essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Legumes, wholegrain breads and vegetables are all great sources of complex carbohydrates.
On the strictest sense, the body doesn’t absolutely need carbohydrates to survive because our bodies are smart enough to convert proteins into carbs if needed. It is however, considered undesirable to cut carbohydrates from your diet entirely because the protein in your system is needed for other equally important functions. We need carbohydrates for energy. The liver breaks down these little critters into blood sugar, which is then utilized by your body to get you through each day.
In terms of placing carbohydrates into your weight loss equation, it’s important not to cut them out of your diet. Learn how to manipulate your diet so that you’re not cutting any food groups from your menu. Carbohydrates contain about 4 calories per gram, which is a whole lot. If you do eat a large carbohydrate containing diet though, your body will obviously be facing a calorie surplus and this will hinder your weight loss plans. If you’re trying to loose weight and you don’t really know how to go about approaching the carbohydrate thing, here are a few little tips to get you going:
- Start the day with carbohydrates. Opt for whole grain breads and cereals instead of sugary versions. Learn about portion control and ration out your carbohydrates accordingly.
- Use whole grain breads at lunch time for your sandwich. Ditch that white bread! Although it tastes great it doesn’t have a whole lot going for it nutritionally.
- Ditch the potatoes and white rice. Both of these are horribly starchy and like white bread, don’t have a whole lot of nutritional value worth talking about. Opt for brown rice or legumes instead.
- Consume a variety of complex carbohydrates each day.
- Don’t eat more than one or two pieces of fruit each day as some fruits tend to be quite high in simple carbs. Don’t go eliminating fruit from your diet though because fruit is an incredibly rich source of loads of essential vitamins and minerals that our little bodies absolutely need.
- If you’re unsure about whether or not it’s a good carb or a bad carb, always opt for the wholemeal or wholegrain option. White pasta’s, rice and etc are usually not the best way to go.