There’s a lot of confusion about whether or not we should eat carbs. Are carbs the enemy? Are there ‘good’ carbs? Bad carbs? Confused? Read on.
The good news is that carbs are not necessarily bad for us. There are plenty of really healthy carbs that help fuel our bodies, give us energy and keep us healthy, but finding the right carbs can seem tricky.
A lot of people think that carbs are the enemy and will go on extreme diets where they cut them out entirely, which can leave them feeling tired, depressed, and their energy levels are low.
What we need to remember is that our bodies run on carbs – it’s just the ‘empty’ carbs we need to avoid.
What are carbs?
We know that breads, pastas, rice, and starchy veggies like potato are all carbs, but what a lot of us forget is that fruit and vegetables are actually carbohydrates as well. In fact, they are highly nutritious and are part of a very healthy diet.
Also, fruits and vegetables are naturally occurring; they’re very, very low in calories which means that you can eat a lot more of them before you get full. They also have a lot of nutritional content, plus a lot of vitamins, minerals and fibre which help with digestion, so there are lots of benefits.
I think the downside is though, is that we have this understanding that all carbs are the enemy and that carbs are literally only pasta and bread, but understanding the place of carbohydrates in our daily diet is really vital to helping us to start feeling happier, healthier and more energized.
What makes a ‘bad’ carb?
Anything highly processed like white bread and pasta doesn’t contain any fibre or nutrition; it’s really just a filler. When you eat bread, you get full more quickly because it’s very dense, but you’re not really getting any of the nutritional benefits that you’d get from eating good carbs.
Processed and starchy carbs are good if you’re in a famine, or if you’re hard at work on the farm like we would have been in the old days, because it’s going to give you some energy, but our standard Australian diet, (or as I like to call it, SAD), still tends to include a lot of these highly processed carbs, despite the fact that we live a much more sedentary lifestyle.
The problem is that if you continue to eat like that, you’re going to continue to feel really yucky, suboptimal, be low in energy, and you’re probably going to gain weight, because you’re never giving your body a chance to actually get the nutrients it needs to become more efficient at burning fat.
Think about the standard Australian diet – toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, meat and potatoes or pasta for dinner, biscuits and cakes for snacks – and then think about your daily energy output.
Back in the day, when we worked on the farm, you could get away with having a diet like that; once you used up all the carbs in your bloodstream, then your body would start eating into the fat, which is why back in those days there weren’t a lot of overweight people.
People were a lot more energetic, so their daily energy output and input were relatively balanced.
However, the problem is that we’ve continued to eat like that, but we’re sitting on our butts all day. As a result, we end up with all those surplus carbohydrates floating around our body, we have high blood sugar, and we start storing fat because we’re not burning off the carbs we’re consuming.
If we can reduce our carbohydrate intake, especially the starchy, refined carbs, and replace them with vegetables and low-calorie fruit, then you’ll find that you’ll actually be able to start eating into those fat stores in your body.
All of a sudden, you’ll feel better, and you’ll eventually lose any excess weight that you’re carrying.
It’s not about losing weight, though, it’s about feeling better The first thing that people notice when they start changing their diet, is that they feel more energised, and have less digestive issues.
What happens if I reduce or cut out the processed carbs?
You might notice that you don’t feel great for the first couple of weeks, but if you stick with it, and you educate yourself and stay disciplined, the long-term benefits will far outweigh any short term pain!