Thursday 18th July 2019
Carbohydrates often get a bad name in the media, in particular sugar, but also things like potatoes, rice and pasta. So I wanted to set the record straight once and for all.
We need carbohydrates to function as they are our main source of energy. They come in two main forms, simple (sugar) and complex (starch), and starch gets broken down into sugar for the body to use as energy. Fibre is also a type of carbohydrate too. Despite many people claiming to “cut out” carbs or sugar it is near on impossible to do this as it is found in almost all foods. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, bread, grains, pasta, rice, beans and lentils are just a handful of examples. Excluding any major food groups from your diet is never a good idea as this means you are also excluding lots of vital micronutrients like vitamin C and A, potassium and iron. Did you know that the main source of vitamin C in the UK diet is from potatoes, it's because we eat so many of them they have become such staple in our diet.
Many people consume too much carbohydrate for their activity levels which means the body cannot use it all and it ends up storing fat. Without getting too into the science, please note that carbs are not converted to fat and then stored, this biologically cannot happen and is hard work for the body. But the fat that we have in our blood stream or that's eaten alongside the carbs gets stored whilst the body attempts to use up all the excess sugar. If you are not very active then your body simply doesn't need as many carbohydrates as someone who is.
Top tips when it comes to carbs:
• Include wholegrain varieties such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, couscous or grains
• Keep the skin on your potatoes, (normal or sweet) it adds extra fibre.
• Try to minimise how often and how many sweets or sweetened drinks you consume. It's not about removing these items completely from your diet but just being conscious of the portion size and frequency. This also applies to cakes, cookies and ice cream and anything with added sugar (we will cover this in more detail in two weeks time).
• Watch your portion size - 1 portion of cooked pasta or rice should be the size of a tennis ball. Could you add in some extra veggies if you think you'll still be hungry?
The bottom line is carbohydrates should definitely be included in your diet, try to get them from whole foods as often as you can.
For more tips - check out my Instagram page and also drop me line with any of yours too!