"But can I eat carbs?" As if carbohydrates, just by virtue of being carbohydrates, are going to make you fat! In this article we explore what exactly are carbs; are all carbs the same; what are they good for; are they unhealthy and will they make you fat or stop you from losing weight.
So what are carbohydrates (carbs)? Carbs are one of the macro-nutrients or building blocks of food, along with proteins and fats.
Micro-nutrients being your vitamins and minerals.
People usually think of carbs as bread, potatoes and pasta.
Actually there are carbs in many different types of foods.
They are found in all plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, grains and nuts, plus from the animal based foods - milk and milk products.
Carbs are split into 2 groups simple and complex.
Simple carbohydrates are basically sugar.
Fruit sugar or fructose; table sugar or sucrose and milk sugar or lactose.
Complex carbohydrates are sugars but the molecules form more complex chains.
The complex also contains fibre and starches.
Examples of complex carbohydrates are vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas.
Carbs can again be divided into 2 - unrefined and refined.
Unrefined are fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains and refined are foods such as sugar, sweets, candy, white flour, rice and soft drinks.
What are carbohydrates good for? Carbs are a vital energy source.
They break down in the body to glucose which is the fuel for both the brain and the body and necessary to use as energy in every activity that we do.
Are carbs unhealthy? Are they stopping you from losing weight? As previously discussed, all carbs are not the same.
Some are actually good for you and some are just like eating sugar.
If you choose carbohydrates that are refined and simple like candy/lollies, soft drinks and white bread these will break down in the body to form glucose.
The problem is, if you eat too much of these types of foods the extra glucose gets stored in the body as fat.
This is where the high protein/fats diets seem to work for some people.
It is important, therefore, to eat a small amount of complex, unprocessed or unrefined carbohydrates.
Foods like brown rice and whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
These foods contain fibre, which is crucial for healthy digestion and elimination, and that means a healthy bowel.
Fibre retains water which means the stools will be bulkier and softer and therefore will move through the intestines quickly.
This expedient bowel transit time actually helps to clean the bowels and ensure that stool doesn't fester in your bowels causing waste products to actually back up into your body.
This will enhance your weight loss diet and efforts further.
These factors abate constipation and haemorrhoids, and are vital factors in colon cancer prevention.
Fibre also helps to bring down cholesterol by interfering with the reabsorption of bile, and then producing more bile salts which in turn causes more LDL receptors to be formed and draw LDL's from the blood stream.
LDL's are considered the bad form of cholesterol.
Complex and unprocessed carbs also contain vital nutrients that are necessary for energy and fuel the brain and body.
For example, whole grains and legumes or dried beans contain zinc.
Zinc is important for a healthy immune and reproductive system, also vital for memory, good skin, energy and low cholesterol levels.
White, processed, bleached flour and bread actually binds to important vitamins and minerals in the body and draws them out of the body.
As well as not containing any nutrients and fibre, unless added artificially during processing.
As to whether carbs will make you fat? No food group can "make you fat".
Carbs can only make you fat if you eat too much of them.
No matter which type of carbs you choose, the good or the bad.
One of the reasons why limiting a food group enables you to lose weight is the fact that you have less food choices available to you.
The less you have to choose from the less you will eat.
Think about it.
If all you could eat was cheesecake, even if this was your favourite food, there is only so much you could eat in one day.
Or day after day.
The other reason the high protein, high fat diet works is because your body goes into ketosis.
A state in which energy or fuel is derived from fat rather than glycogen (stored glucose).
The problem is when you eliminate or reduce to a great extent carbs from your diet, you then expose yourself to becoming deficient in fibre and vital nutrients as discussed earlier in this article.
Intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in particular have been linked to greatly reduced rates of many cancers and cardiovascular disease.
So, in conclusion, it is not the 'carbs' that are making you fat.
It is how much food you are consuming.
If you are overweight then you need to look at many factors in your diet and lifestyle and find ways limit your intake of all foods and drinks to match your body's needs.
A good way to do this is to seek diet advice from your online Naturopath.
They can advise you on how to diet, the best natural health products and herbal medicine to increase your chance for success!