Carbohydrates 101 – Everything You Need to Know

Published: 28th August 2019

We’ve all heard the old myth that if you want to lose weight, you need to stop eating carbohydrates but does that tale hold any truth or is it simply another fad diet with no fact behind it?

We’re going to be giving you the lowdown on carbs today, including everything you need to know about what foods contain carbs, the pros and cons of carbohydrates on the body and whether you really can carry on eating them when losing weight.

What Foods are Carbohydrates?

When we think of carbs and the foods we consider to be carbohydrates, our minds automatically go to the beige foods on our plates such as bread, rice, pasta and potatoes and you’re absolutely correct, they are all carbohydrates.

However, carbohydrates aren’t a type of food as such in the same way gluten or dairy is, carbohydrates are actually a food group and a nutrient, meaning they offer something to the body when consumed. As well as the classic high carb foods we think of, most of our foods contain a certain amount of carbohydrates, designed to give us energy.

Foods such as crisps, chocolate, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, yoghurts and popcorn all contain carbohydrates, even though they’re not the foods we classically refer to as carbohydrates.

Healthy vs Unhealthy Carbohydrates

We often hear people discussing healthy and unhealthy carbohydrates, referring to the types of carbs that are good for us to have in our diets and the ones that aren’t but which is which?

Bread, white pasta, white rice and sweet treats are considered to be ‘unhealthy’ carbohydrates, mainly due to the fact that they have less nutritional goodness and sometimes higher salt or sugar contents due to other added ingredients whereas foods such as brown rice and pasta, oats, quinoa etc are all high carbohydrate foods but they’re natural and contain no added ingredients to make them ‘unhealthy’.

Vegetables, nuts and seeds also all contain carbohydrates but are great additions, pretty much squashing the myth that ‘cutting carbs’ will make you lose weight – it depends on the kind.

Why Do We Need Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are the foods designed to provide us with energy, whether we get a short, quick spike of energy or slow-releasing energy depends on the type of carb we choose.

Carbohydrate heavy foods that are also full of sugar, such as cakes, chips and bread will give us a quick boost of energy that might make us feel great at first but is short-lived and can leave us feeling really sluggish once it has worn off.

On the other hand, foods such as grains, vegetables and brown pasta/rice, are whole carbohydrates, meaning they have no added refined sugar to give that false sense of energy. These carbohydrates provide slow-releasing energy that has less of a dramatic impact on how you feel but will keep your energy levels feeling steady for a longer period of time. Regularly consuming these kinds of carbohydrates throughout the day is thought to keep your energy levels consistent, meaning you should avoid dips and peaks in how awake you feel.

Carbohydrates are also the foods that tend to make you feel fullest for longest but that concept only really applies to complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and grains, as opposed to the simple carbohydrates that contain a lot of sugar as these are broken down by the body very quickly, meaning you won’t get that ‘fuller for longer’ feeling.

Should We Avoid Carbohydrates On a Diet?

Although low carbohydrate diets, such as the Keto diet, do exist, if you ask the team at Bodyline, we don’t recommend completely removing any food types from your diet and simply recommend eating everything in moderation, upping the good stuff and keeping treats to a minimum.

If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s no denying that simple carbohydrates such as bread, white pasta, chips, cakes, etc need to be kept for treats every now and again but that isn’t because they’re ‘classic carbs’ but because they’re packed with sugars and very little other nutrients, so they can pack the calories into your diet without keeping you full, providing energy or giving you any benefits at all.

Carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta, sweet potatoes, vegetables, oats and grains should be enjoyed regularly as they are complex carbohydrates that take the body a long time to break down, releasing energy slowly and keeping you fuller for longer, as well as containing many other nutrients, vitamins and minerals, making them great additions to your diet.

To create a healthy, balanced meal plan, you should be trying to incorporate complex carbs into every meal to keep your energy consistently up, whether that be fruit and veg every meal or some kind of brown grain but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a sugary, high carb treat into your diet from time to time!

So, in short, carbohydrates are not to be entirely avoided if you want to lose weight if you choose the right types, so enjoy as many complex carbs as you like and you should still see great weight loss results, especially when eaten alongside your Bodyline plan!

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