Ladies, carbs are not your enemy! In fact, they are an essential part of any healthy and balanced diet, especially if you live an active lifestyle. Sure, if you eat excessive amounts of white bread, pasta or pastries, you are going to find it requires a lot more effort to shift weight, or maintain a healthy physique. Yet it is a common misconception that it is carbohydrates in general that are the bane of any weight loss goal. That being said, there are some carbohydrates that are best consumed in moderation, if not avoided altogether!
Though carbohydrates are formed of three components, fibre, starch and sugar, it is important to understand that carbohydrates generally fall into two very distinct categories: complex carbs and simple carbs.
Complex Carbohydrates - In simplified terms, these are the good guys, the ones that you need to be having in your diet. Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source and you need them not only for the energy required to walk, run, skip, dance and workout, but you also need this energy for your body to run its basic metabolic functions. Complex carbs are usually higher in fibre and are digested slowly, providing a slower release of energy into your body. Even though your body can function with a high fats/protein diet and zero carbohydrates, this isn’t really a healthy or sustainable option. This is because many nutrient dense foods, including vegetables, are both an excellent source of carbohydrates as well as numerous vitamins and minerals.
Examples of complex carbohydrates include:
- Whole oats
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread and pastas
Simple Carbohydrates - These are the refined carbohydrates that should be consumed in moderation and sometimes avoided altogether! Simple carbs are rich in sugars and raise your blood glucose levels quickly, providing a quick burst of energy that isn’t sustained and often leaves you feeling more depleted on an energetic level than you did to begin with.
Examples of simple carbs include:
- Soda/ sweet drinks (Yes, this includes ALL fruit juices!)
- Processed flour based products such as white bread, pasta and pastries
- White rice
- Lollies and chocolate
So if you are working towards a weight loss goal, or are struggling to maintain your current weight, then cutting down on simple carbs will definitely help you achieve your goals. However if you cut carbohydrates out of your diet altogether (I am referring to the complex carbs here) then you are not only going to find that your energy levels drop dramatically and that your digestive system gets put out of whack (you need fibres to keep yourself regular), you are also going to be missing out on numerous other important nutrients in your diet!