Carbohydrates do not make you fat, eating too much makes you fat. Unfortunately that’s the sad truth of it and cutting out carbs isn’t going to be a magical cure for ultimate weight loss if you compensate for the calories lost from carbohydrate with an alternative source such as protein. For some body builders who understand how to manipulate what they eat to maintain their physique, build muscle or whatever else they’re aiming for then good for them, but for the average person like you or I there really is no need to stress so much about carbs.
Carbohydrates give you 4kcal of energy for every gram you consume regardless of whether it’s from white bread, cookies or brown rice and there’s nothing you can do to get away from that fact, carbohydrates are what they are regardless of the source they come from. Protein also gives you 4kcal of energy per gram…. fact. Sadly, this macronutrient has received some very bad press recently and caused many people to jump on the anti-carb bandwagon. Although it’s true that we can live without it trust me, your life will be a whole lot better if you include some in your diet. The thing that makes some carbohydrate ‘healthier’ than others is usually the quantity that it is present in the food and the amount of time it takes our body to break it down as well as the presence of other nutrients in the food such as fibre and protein. Whole grain products are advocated by health professionals due to the presence of fibre which is indigestible by humans and therefore ferments in the small intestine, promoting the growth of gut bacteria which will assist in the production of short chain fatty acids… long story short, fibre = cancer prevention and making it easier to go to the toilet (yes, I am talking about poo in a blog!)
Fibre also has the effect of making you feel full for longer after finishing a meal and therefore reduces the likelihood of snacking between meals.
Another reason why some carbohydrate is considered healthier than others is the complexity of the carbohydrate. Eventually, they all get broken down in to glucose to be absorbed by the body and used as an energy source however some carbs need more processing than others in order to reach this stage, these are typically your ‘low GI’ and will cause less of a spike in blood insulin levels as glucose is released in to the bloodstream at a slower rate. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to keep our blood sugar levels constant. Insulin spikes will cause you to become hungry more rapidly after eating so stick to your low GI carbs like sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grains and quinoa. Insulin moves glucose into your muscle cells however muscle cells can only store so much, so when muscle cells are full up the remaining blood sugar will be shuttled into your fat cells. This causes fat storage and is the source of the myth that all carb will be stored as fat.
If insulin continues to spike repeatedly this can cause a loss of the bodies sensitivity to insulin, making the individual insulin resistant. Insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes…. which, in short, is not a situation you want to find yourself in!
Feel like your brain is bleeding after that carb information overload? What you really need to take away from this article is that carbs are not the enemy. Cutting carbohydrate out of your diet will most likely leave you grumpy and with a headache so don’t be afraid to carb up, I’m mostly talking to you here ladies! So eat your carbs, just consume responsibly and you’ll be fine. Stick to whole grain sources and low GI carbohydrate that will also give you plenty of fibre. Carbohydrate is the brains primary energy source and without it you will struggle to concentrate!