The link between carbohydrates, weight loss and weight gain has been much debated over the years, often resulting in false assumptions being made and shared.
A carbohydrate is a bio molecule consisting of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen (hence the name) and is a major food source and source of energy.
In recent decades, every couple of years, a new ‘study’ reveals that carbs are either obesity inducing or encourage weight loss.
This has fuelled the popularity of fad low-carb or no carb diets that promise people rapid weight loss and better energy levels.
Given the fact that carbohydrates are in themselves a source of energy, this claim is somewhat laughable.
What are carbs?
Carbs are an important component of human dietary requirements and they always have been.
Scientifically speaking, there is no evidence to suggest that carbs are essential nutrients for human beings, as one can survive on proteins and fats.
They are important components in a healthy and balanced diet, however.
Diet slogans like ‘Bread is the enemy!’ and ‘No grain, no pain’ are merely methods of propaganda for fad diets that cost money, achieve superficial results and do not promote healthy weight management.
The trick is to understand the good carbs from the bad carbs.
The bad carbs are the refined, processed carbohydrates that have essentially been stripped of all their goodness (natural nutrients and fibre).
Most processed foods contain these bad carbs; white flour and refined sugar that really have no health benefits. They disrupt insulin production and mess up blood glucose levels.
These carbs have no nutritional value, are difficult to digest and end up as empty calories being stored as fat.
You will find these bad carbs in foods like baked goods, processed meals, pizzas, white bread, white pasta, sugary treats, salad dressings, white rice, sweetened cereal, fizzy sugary drinks and more.
The good carbs are the ones your body DOES need. In order to consume a healthy amount of the right carbohydrates, always stick to whole grains.
Whole grains are packed full of nutrients as they contain all three grains: endosperm, germ and bran. Refined grains only contain one; endosperm, which is starchy and low in nutrients.
Go for brown whole wheat pasta and bread, and choose brown rice over white.
Vegetables and fruit are good carbs too. They are low in calories, high in nutritional value and packed full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will keep you healthy and protected from illnesses.
They are also high in fibre so will make you feel full for longer, unlike the bad carbs that leave you feeling hungry again soon after eating.
If you can choose organic fruit and veg, then do. This means that they will have been grown organically with no exposure to pesticides.
There are so many myths about carbohydrates floating around out there, but the truth is your body needs carbs, but it needs the right carbs.
If you love bagels and biscuits to the extent that you overeat, you will gain weight and you will cause your blood glucose levels to go up and down which in turn can give you mood swings and rob you of your energy.
You may ask yourself a million questions when researching weight loss methods: do carb blocks really work, does weight training get better results than cardio, is dark chocolate good for you, do eggs really raise your cholesterol levels, etc.
Find what is best for you and stick to it. Read ingredients and food packaging carefully before buying, and try and cook from fresh where possible.
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Susannah Perez is a health and beauty blogger with a special interest in nutrition for weight loss and weight management, given her recent personal weight loss journey. She collaborates with Futureshape.