Tue 26 Nov, 2013

The Great Carb Exchange


In these pressured times everyone is so busy and it can be difficult to fit in a decent meal, get the appropriate amount of exercise and still get everything done. When we hear that we need 5 portions of Fruit and Vegetables every day, at least 30 minutes of exercise and a good 7 hours sleep each night, it just seems impossible.

One myth that is floated around quite a bit in “health circles” is that you shouldn’t eat carbs. Although there is definitely merit to this approach, it’s not entirely accurate because actually there are “good carbs” which should be eaten as they keep you fuller for longer and keeps you higher in nutrients.

Here’s an example. We’ve all tried the “brown” alternatives of rice and pasta and probably found that it’s more filling but maybe not as tasty as the white equivalent. However, brown rice contains significantly more protein and potassium due to the side hull and bran that remains in it (unlike in white rice where it’s refined). It’s the properties that make the difference and alter the taste of course but these types of carbs are very good for you, when compared to white rice which is stripped of it’s properties such as Magnesium, Zinc and Iron. Digestion is so much easier when eating foods high in protein and it helps promote weight loss by naturally filling you up, removing the need to eat again so soon.

But What if I Don’t Like Rice?

Don’t worry. Not everyone is a fan of rice or pasta and so there are alternatives you can delve into to keep yourself high in protein, lower your glycemix index and which include the “thermic effect” which helps to boost your metabolism. Some of these include:

• Whole vegetables
• Nuts
• Whole cereal grains
• Beans

These are foods which can be incorporated alongside other non-carb foods to give you a filling and satisfying meal and which will keep you feeling fuller for longer. You don’t have to always have potatoes with your meal!

So Do I Eat Carbs or Not?

It’s really a personal decision in each instance. Some people have a very high natural metabolism which can burn off huge amounts of food and they appear to never put any weight on. As we age this will gradually slow down but some are luckier than others and many cannot eat much without putting more weight on and so must be more selective of what they eat.
Lifestyle choices are of course a factor, with a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables and the staple foods that are known to be good for us, this can mean we are eating “healthily” but not always wisely.

For instance many people purposely stop from eating too much protein because it helps to build muscle (which in turn can sometimes add more weight), however, the common misconception is that only muscle-bound individuals eat lots of protein to get bigger muscle growth. In fact what people don’t realise is that yes, protein helps to build muscle but this muscle helps to burn off fat more efficiently. Even when you are inactive.

It’s great to eat high protein foods and those foods rich in minerals but Carbohydrates essentially give your body the energy it needs. Protein builds and repairs your body but if you have a lack of carbohydrate intake your body starts to use protein as an energy source. This trade-off isn’t advisable. Your body needs carbs to help keep your heart, lungs and vital organs functioning. No-one is suggesting eating 20 potatoes and a bowl of white pasta every day but it is recommended that you incorporate even a small portion of carbs into your diet during the week so that there is some energy to use when your body starts needing the Glucose to pump into your blood cells.

The debate has raged on for years and with various diets and different methods of losing weight it’s important that you know the risks involved and the effects of cutting out a part of your diet that, although can add fat if not properly “worked off”, but that ultimately is important at keeping your body functioning.

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