Happy National Toast Day lovely ladies! Who doesn’t love a thick piece of door-stop toast slathered in butter? However, we all probably know that’s not quite the best option to stay on track towards our health and fitness goals. But, that’s not to say a piece of seeded whole-grain goodness should be ignored too. In honour of national Toast Day we’re giving you the low-down on the truth about carbs and why they might not be the enemy after all!
Why Do People Think Carbs Are ‘Bad’?
Firstly, let’s look at what has led us all to believe that carbohydrates are the enemy to get the real truth about carbs. Well, we can probably thank the Atkins diet, keto diet and countless fad celebrity diets for that! The problem is that, yes diets such as Atkins and Keto DO work and there are plenty of real-life success stories to show for this. However, there are a thousand other diets out there that have proven results too (probably even more than that, let’s be honest. I mean, the cabbage soup diet anyone?!).
In addition, in the fitness world, when it comes to ‘cutting’, people tend to up their protein and drastically lower their carb and/or fat intake to see results, which again does work. However, there are numerous reasons why, A, it is not sustainable and B, why it isn’t actually the solution to your weight loss or fitness goals.
The truth about Carbs: What exactly are they?
What carbohydrates actually are may seem obvious to many, however, others simply associate carbs with bread, pasta, potatoes and rice and call it a day. However, there is so much more to these complex macronutrients than people often realise.
Put simply, carbs break down into glucose which your body uses as it’s primary source of energy, so are pretty essential when it comes to looking after your health. That being said, while carbs aren’t ‘bad’ there are certainly carbs which are better for us than others.
Should I Avoid Carbs If I’m Trying to Lose Weight?
So, while we’re not saying go wild on all the carbs you like, we are saying that you should include the ‘right’ ones in a healthy, balanced diet. The type of carbs you should look to cut down on (you can even avoid them entirely if you really want) are those that are very much ’empty-calorie’ carbohydrates. These are usually high in sugar and calories and leave you hungry just an hour or two later.
Carbs to limit your intake of include:
- Refined grains. These include white rice, white flour, white pasta, white bread, muffins, cereal bars, pizza and bagels.
- Sugary foods. These include fizzy drinks, sweets, cookies, many kinds of cereal and condiments.
Complex Carbs and Why You Should Eat Them
That brings us on to complex carbohydrates. These are the good guys and we definitely recommend including a healthy amount of them in your diet.
Unlike sugary, refined carbs, complex carbs take much longer for the body to break down, often known as ‘slow-release’ foods. This means they take longer to digest and therefore your body also absorbs the sugars from them at a much slower rate. Thus meaning that your blood sugar levels don’t spike as quickly as they would when eating the more sugary types of carbohydrates, which means they don’t reach a level that is associated with your body turning to storing fat as a result.
Many complex carbs are also a good source of fibre, which also helps to regulate glucose levels and keeps you feeling satisfied for longer periods of time. This is actually one of the reasons why people who include a healthy amount of carbs in their diet tend to see better weight loss results than those who don’t.
With complex carbs, you will stay fuller for longer and keep your glucose levels at a steady rate (which will help to avoid you face-planting the biscuit tin mid-morning).
Complex carbs to include in your diet:
- Whole grains: Oats, Brown Rice, Rye, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgar and Quinoa (not technically a whole-grain, but we like to think of it as the Queen of Carbs!), whole grain breads and pastas.
- Whole Fruit: Fruit does come high in natural sugar but should definitely be included as part of a healthy diet. While too much fruit would be bad for you (due to the fructose it contains), in moderation it is essential to a healthy diet. High in fibre, anti-oxidants vitamins and minerals, it’s not to be missed!
- Legumes: Nuts, Peas, Beans & Lentils.
The truth about carbs is that they are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. Whether you are looking to lose weight, tone up or simply maintain a healthy lifestyle, complex and nutrient-rich carbohydrates should be a part of this. As a general rule, opt for simple, unprocessed whole grains, high in fibre and low in sugar.
Not sure how many carbohydrates you should be eating? Take a look at our guide to macro-counting.