Carbohydrates have a bad reputation these days. There is so much confusion around carbs and whether you should or should not consume them while trying to lose weight. The truth is that not all foods high in carbohydrates are bad for you. So, here are the facts...
You NEED carbohydrates in your diet! I have based my Nutrition HELP Guide around a wholesome and balanced diet, incorporating all food groups.
Carbs are key for maximum energy, stamina, concentration, recovery and better fluid balance. They are so important for people who are working out regularly because they are the primary fuel for your body. Your brain is almost entirely fueled by carbohydrates, so it's pretty important you eat them. Think of carbohydrates as the gas needed to fuel a car. Without gas, a car won't run. Likewise, without carbohydrates, your body will not have the fuel it requires to run through an entire day.
So why do carbohydrates have such a bad rep? Looking at carbohydrates a little more scientifically, you will see that carbs have a large impact on insulin levels (a hormone that affects the storage of carbohydrates). When you eat carbs, your blood sugar level rises. This triggers a release of insulin which attempts to reduce your blood sugar level by storing it. Insulin does this by filling up certain storage areas in your body with these carbs.
One of these storage sites is muscle cells. Now, the issue here is that once your muscles are full of carbohydrates, they signal your body to let it know they are full and can't store anymore. Once this happens, any excess carbohydrates will begin to store in other locations around your body and can essentially convert into fat (adipose tissue) if not worked off. Really simply put...
Too much carbs >>> blood sugar spike >>> insulin levels rise >>>muscles fill up with glycogen>>> leftovers potentially store as body fat.
In a nutshell, carbohydrates are NEEDED by your body, but just in moderate amounts. A few ways to minimise insulin issues are: to consume low GI and high fibre carbohydrates (listed below), try to avoid all refined sugars, and when eating carbohydrates, have them with a protein or healthy fat source.
Some examples of LOW GI, high fibre carbohydrate foods are:
- Breads and cereals — I personally love rye bread!
- Grains such as pasta or rice
- Starchy vegetables
So don't be scared of incorporating carbs into your diet. They can actually help you on your weight loss journey, just don't eat too many!