Every second person (or so it seems) I talk to seems to have ‘cut carbs’ out of their diet, or at least ‘cut down’. Is this just a phase or will people maintain this long term? And is it necessary?
First, let me tell you I am not a dietician, but I have spent about 20 years in the fitness industry and get asked loads of questions about food. What alarms me is that despite the fact that most leading dieticians and nutritionists advocate one message in regards to carbs, a huge number of people I talk to jump on some faddy bandwagon and stop eating carbs altogether.
Carbohydrate is AN ESSENTIAL nutrient – your body, including your brain, NEEDS CARBS. The trick is to simply know WHICH CARBS TO EAT and have some idea of when you might need what. In the past carbohydrates were broken down into simple or complex carbohydrates based on the structure of the carbohydrate. While this structural classification still exists scientists now know that this classification doesn’t help too much in regards to telling us what carbs are best for us. Instead, it is their glycaemic index (GI) that gives you a more accurate idea of what type of effects the carbs have on your blood glucose (sugar) levels. A food that has a high GI ranking, say 87 (it’s out of 100) will raise your blood glucose levels relatively fast and result in a greater release of the hormone insulin. This results in a quick plummet in blood glucose levels and you are likely to feel sluggish later on. So for example, if you eat a handful of lollies you may get a little burst of energy but then shortly after you wont be feeling so energetic.
Foods with a low GI will raise your blood glucose levels more slowly and not have such a drastic impact on your insulin levels. In return your blood glucose levels remain steadier for longer and you are less likely to get that drastic ‘slump’ in energy. These are the carbs that are generally better for you and should be the majority of the carbs that you eat. Of course if you eat too much of any type of food you will put on weight. You can eat the high GI foods but eat them less often.
So how do you know which foods are low GI? You can’t guess. Foods are given a ranking after being tested by scientists. Generally speaking you need to avoid processed and refined carbs such as white and wholemeal bread and look for multigrain bread or bread with ‘lots of bits’ in it. Replace most breakfast cereals with wholesome alternatives such as porridge and avoid white rice. So you can
, and SHOULD, eat carbs, but you need to choose carefully. For more information visit http://www.glycemicindex.com/