Are carbs really that bad?

low-carb weight loss Feb 03, 2018

We hear every day that sugars and carbohydrates are not good for us, that they make us put on weight if we have an excess amount of these. There is a bit of truth and non-truth here, let me explain this a little.

There are 3 types of carbohydrates – sugar, starch and fibre – and they are all made of sugar molecules. However, sugar also refers to as a type of carbohydrate called Simple Carbohydrate, which contains just one or two molecules of sugar. The Complex carbohydrates – starch and fibre – consist of many more molecules of sugar.

Simple carbohydrates are the minimal expression in which the body can absorb carbohydrates (they have a simple molecular structure and are made up of 1-2 sugar molecules) and they are absorbed very quickly by the system producing sugar peaks in the blood. The body then has to make a big effort to remove most of that sugar in the blood as a high concentration can be life-threatening. This will initially result in fat/weight gain if the calories are higher than what our body needs. Therefore, controlling blood sugar levels is key to weight management. If we continue to include sugars in most of our meals and on a regular basis we will also be at risk of developing many chronic and inflammatory diseases such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, autoimmune conditions and many others. So, as you can see sugar is not only related to weight gain and cavity problems. Oh! And I don´t want to forget to say that sugar creates addictions just like drugs do, in fact, it uses the same pathways in the brain and gives you cold turkey when you don´t have your regular dose! So, watch out, as the more you have the more you will want!

The Complex Carbohydrates known as starch take longer to be digested and absorbed into the system, but, it is still a fairly fast process, so, what to do? What is the key to reduce simple sugar content in our daily meals and still enjoy life? Eating is one of the biggest pleasures in life, don´t you agree?

The following Low Carb Tips are crucial to help you reduce the sugar content in your diet and still enjoy your food but also help you balance your sugar levels and reduce inflammation in your cells:

1)     Eating a diet high in fiber will slow down sugar absorption from the small intestine into the blood. So, have plenty of greens and other non-starchy veggies. Fiber also makes us fuller for longer without adding an excessive number of calories.

2)     Having lean and clean protein in every meal will also make you fuller and help you reduce carbs in your diet. Dietary Protein is what our muscles use to grow so a good protein intake will contribute to a healthier muscle mass. Just so you know, the speed and efficiency of our metabolism are determined mainly by our muscle mass so, keeping it at a good level will aid weight loss! 

3)     Avoid the empty calories (processed and packaged foods) Or on the contrary, choose nutrient-rich foods (fresh, fresh, fresh!). Did you know that if your body receives all the nutrients it needs the sugar cravings minimize??

4)     Have whole fruit instead of juices, dried fruits or artificial sugary foods. Again, why? Due to the fibre content, which we said helps balance blood sugar levels and therefore avoid weight gain (meaning fat gain).

5)      Increase your plant-based fats a little to fill you up and nourish your cells. Did you know that our cells are partially made of fats and therefore good quality fats are crucial for their good function? This obviously has an impact on weight management and our overall health!

6)     Drink a glass of water before each meal! Water has no calories but it will make you fuller earlier. When we are full we tend to make better food choices. At the same time, you will be contributing to increasing your hydration levels! Another fact for you. All the reactions in our body are water base so guess what? being well hydrated is crucial for weight loss too! 

7)     Having a protein shake as a snack. Adding one extra protein intake per day will again make you fill fuller for longer, contribute to a faster metabolism and keep you away from having other sugary snacks. 

So, now you have a better understanding of what are carbohydrates and how they can affect our health in a negative and positive way!

Always remember, we are what we eat and what we don´t eat, so, let food be your medicine and you will live a fuller and happier life.

 

Suzy F Lloyd - Registered Dietitian - Britzke Nutrition 

 

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