Carbohydrates, what's the deal?

Carbohydrates, carbs or “the bad, but oh so delicious food” as many may say are quite controversial!


When I say carbs, you may automatically think pasta, bread, white potatoes or pastries – all those delicious yummy foods we love to indulge on! This isn’t wrong, these are all 𝐑𝐄𝐅𝐈𝐍𝐄𝐃 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐡𝐲𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬.


Would it surprise you to hear that vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and sweet potatoes are all carbohydrates too? These are 𝐖𝐇𝐎𝐋𝐄 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐨𝐡𝐲𝐝𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬.


Things are very rarely black and white when it comes to nutrition, unfortunately carbohydrates are one of those topics that society tends demonized based off only half the equation – refined carbohydrates.


All carbohydrates are not “bad” for you.


What are carbohydrates anyway, if we really break them down – carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are sugars, fiber or starches. Carbohydrates are one of the 3 macro-nutrients, along with protein and fat, they provide the body with ENERGY. It may surprise you to hear that carbohydrates are not technically essential. You can live without consuming them, but they do provide a host of benefits and essential nutrients when included into ones diet.


*Not all carbs are created equally*


REFINED carbs do lead to spikes in blood sugar – they are often foods that are lacking in nutrients, full of sugar and striped of fibre. They put us on a crash and burn roller coaster, leading to subsequent cravings of more refined foods. THIS is not ideal, and this is what we want to avoid.


WHOLE carbs are healthy, full of fibre, essential nutrients, and will NOT cause the same crash and burn effect as refined carbs.


There is a myth in the diet world that carbohydrates = weight gain. This is because once overweight, restricting carbohydrates can aid in weight loss in most people. This does not mean that carbohydrates caused the weight gain in the first place. Obesity is a very complex issue; carbohydrates are not to be exclusively or simply blamed for it. Would you like to read more on carbohydrates and weight? Check out this article, it's well researched and has great information!


Biochemical individuality kicks in when we talk about all nutrition topics including carbohydrates. Some people do better on a low carb diet and some people do better on a high carb diet. These isn’t one simple blatant statement that we can make about good ole carbohydrates. Keep in mind humans ate whole carbohydrates long before a rise in obesity.


My advice?

1) Question the notion that “all carbs are bad”.

2) Don’t be afraid to eat an abundance of whole carbs - veg, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains.

3) Consume fat with carbs to slow down digestion and keep you more full (more on that here)

4) Limit intake of refined carbs – but don’t fear them to the point that you feel bad for having a slice of pizza or a cookie here and there. It’s SO OKAY.

5) Interested in a low carb diet? Ensure that you are getting enough of the essential nutrients and fibre that whole carbohydrates provide.

𝐌𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲, 𝐩𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐛𝐨𝐝𝐲 :)



Emily Manuel, B.A, RHN, CYT
 

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