Do We Need Carbs?…Are They All Equal?

Today we’re talking nutrition and asking the question: Do we need carbs? And are all carbs made equal?

 Firstly, ask yourself: what do you think about carbs?

– Carbs make you fat
– All carbs are bad
– Cut out carbs to lose weight
– Cut out bread, pasta, rice, cereals & potatoes for a zero carb diet

Q: Are the statements above true?    A: No, they are not strictly true

What Are Carbs And Why Do We Need Them?

Carbohydrates (CHO) are our main source of energy readily providing the body with the glucose needed to fuel nearly all bodily functions and movement.

Whilst we can function on low carb diets they are not recommended as carbs are undoubtedly our best source of energy, they can easily be broken down and converted into valuable glucose allowing our bodies to function more efficiently.

  Carbs are found in the most abundance in starchy foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes and grains, they can however also be found in many foods including fruit & veg, dairy, drinks & snack foods.
Whilst the energy content of all carbs is the same, this being 4Kcal/Gram they are far from equal in quality, eg. you already know that a bowl of oats is better  than a bowl of sugar regardless of them belonging to the same nutrient group.

 How Do I know Which Carbs To Eat?

So now we know: Carbs are essential but not all equal. It is very true that if we eat too many or the wrong ones we will indeed gain fat, and this is where they get their bad reputation from.

We rate the value of a carbohydrate on the speed at which it’s metabolised into glucose (sugar) in the blood which is then either used or stored, this can be rated on a scale of 1-100 known as the GI index  –>

  Foods scoring well on the GI index tend to be high in fibre and have a more complex molecular structure such as wholegrain, oats and vegetables.

  The foods scoring poorly are those that consist of simple molecular structures and a poor fibre content with sugar being at the top.

   Refined and sugary foods such as sweets, cakes and white pasta, rice & bread are lower in fibre and their simple molecular chains allow them to be broken down to glucose quickly.

  In order to regulate blood sugar, energy levels and hunger we should always choose high fibre, complex carbohydrates scoring well on the GI index, these include:

– vegetables
– some fruits
– wholegrains
– Oats
– Pulses
– Sweet Potato

 Simple Switches Can Make  A Difference, Try The Following:

– switch cereal to porridge
– switch white rice, bread & pasta to wholegrains & seeded bread
– switch sugary snacks and sweets for fruit, veg or a small handful of nuts

 How Many Should I Eat?
A portion of Carbs is equal to one curled palm (curl for carbs) when dry. We should aim for 5-7 of these spread throughout the day.

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