Are carbs bad for us?
That’s it. That’s the answer, you can leave now if you wish.
If you’re still interested, I will tell you why.
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient, along with protein and fat. They make up a lot of the food we eat including:
And many more
Carbohydrates are seen as evil since they can cause our blood sugar levels to rise which can cause us to gain weight and lead to diseases such as diabetes.
However, this is not true for all carbohydrates!
Good and Bad Carbs
There isn’t really such thing as a good or bad carb.
Yes, eating chocolate all day would cause us to gain weight, but so would broccoli if we could force ourselves to eat enough of it.
Having a calorie deficit (eating less calories than we burn) is what is needed for weight loss.
That means that we could eat chocolate all day and still lose weight, but this would not be a healthy way to go about it.
Carbohydrates have a GI (Glycaemic Index) value which indicates the effect that food will have on the amount of sugar in a person’s bloodstream.
A carbohydrate with a low GI value will not raise the blood sugar level as much as something with a high GI value.
The higher the GI value, the faster our bodies will try store the carbs away either in the muscles or as fat.
Once the carbs are stored, we feel hungry again.
Low GI carbs help us feel fuller for longer (yes, I know I sound like a breakfast biscuit advert) since they slowly release the energy into our blood streams.
The Nerdy Stuff
The GI of a given food is not always the best way to see how the food will affect your blood sugar level.
The GI of a food only applies to the amount of carbohydrates in it.
This is where the GL (Glycaemic Load) comes in.
The GL shows us the true effect that the food will have on our blood sugar levels.
For example, pumpkin has a GI of 75, but a GL of 3. This is because pumpkin has very few carbs in it, but the few carbs it does contain have a high GI rating.
But diets say cut them out!?
Cutting out Carbs
Cutting out carbs can be a way to make losing weight easier for some people.
Many diets are effectively a low carb diet including the Atkins diet and Keto diet.
Carbohydrates are easily overeaten so can cause you to eat excess calories.
Cutting them out could mean you eat less overall (calorie deficit).
For a lot of people, however (including myself), a low carb diet will not work.
Because we enjoy bread, pasta and potatoes (especially deep fried).
I would recommend eating carbohydrates which are high in fibre such as fruit and vegetables.
You can enjoy bread and pasta but try change to wholemeal variations and possibly reduce portion sizes.
If you find it easy to cut carbs out then feel free to do so but make sure you are still getting all your vitamins.