“Do carbohydrates make you fat?”
“Do all carbs make you fat?”
These are just some of the questions I often get about carbohydrates.
Why you need carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are necessary for your organs to function properly and as a source of energy for the body. As one of the contributory factors to obesity, carbs have gotten a bad rap. However, not all carbs are bad and knowing which types of carbs to consume is important for optimal health.
Good carbohydrates vs Bad carbohydrates
Refined and processed carbs are those found in bread, pasta, crackers, cakes and sodas. These foods are often high in calories but low in nutrition. Excessive intake of refined and processed carbs can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.
Better sources of carbs are fruits, vegetables and legumes. These foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. While whole grains have been touted as healthy carbs, certain types contain gluten and should be avoided by people with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
Grains containing gluten: wheat, barley, rye, oats (unless stated as gluten-free)
Gluten-free grains: quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat
Sweet potatoes, yam and arrowroot are also good alternatives to grains containing gluten.
Personally, I try to minimise my intake of foods that contain gluten. Eating bread, crackers and oatmeal makes me bloat (giving the pooch belly appearance) and gain weight. Cutting them out from my diet has helped to get rid of my belly pooch, which I thought was belly fat. I feel so much lighter and no longer suffer from abdominal discomfort or cramps.
Do carbohydrates make you fat?
Your body breaks down carbs into glucose for energy. Any excess glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles, or converted to fat.
The problem arises when you eat too much of the wrong carbohydrates, in the forms of refined or processed foods. This causes weight gain as the unused glucose from carbohydrate metabolism is stored as fat.
So, how to you eat carbs and not gain weight?
- Eat starchy carbs only after workout or heavy activity
- Eat fruits and vegetables with every meal, as your healthy sources of carbs
Here’s a sample day of a good reasonable amount of carb intake:
breakfast: eggs with bowl of berries
snack: apple and raw nuts
lunch: salad – raw and cooked vegetables with lean meat, orange
snack: carrot and celery with almond butter
dinner: salad – raw and cooked vegetables with lean meat
Vegetables and fruits provide you with sufficient amount of carbohydrates for the day, to keep you energised and yet not cause weight gain. Besides, you also get the added benefits of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.
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