Why You Shouldn’t Cut Out Carbs
Ditching potatoes, pasta and bread is one of the most common weight-loss strategies, which has become popular due to diet plans such as Atkins and South Beach. But carbohydrates actually provide fewer calories per gram than fat, protein or alcohol and according to recommendations from the Food Standards Agency on good health, should make up approximately 50 percent of our daily calorie intake.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, and are quickly and easily converted to blood glucose, the body cells’ preferred source of fuel. In particular, the brain must have glucose as a source of energy. The brain will not use other sources of energy except in the extreme case of starvation, in which ketone bodies (from the breakdown of body fat) are used by the brain. The body cannot store a large amount of carbohydrate; there is only a short supply available as glycogen in the liver and muscle. Therefore, carbohydrates must be supplied on a regular basis.
The problem is not that carbohydrates are bad, says weight-management expert Sarah Russell, it’s just that we tend to eat too much of them. Foods such as pasta, bread, pizza, cakes and cereal bars are quick, easy and readily available as convenience foods, leading us to consume far more than we need. Cutting them out sometimes brings about rapid weight loss, but is not the long-term answer for a healthy, balanced diet.
It's also what you add to the carbohydrates that bump up the calories. For example, the margarine or butter we put on the bread and the cream or cheese sauces we add to pasta.
Instead of cutting out potatoes, rice, pasta and bread altogether, simply go for smaller portions — no bigger than your fist — and spread them out through the day. This will help keep your blood-sugar levels steady and hunger at bay. Aim for more variety as well; for example oats for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and a rice salad for dinner, and balance it out with plenty of protein, fruit, salad and vegetables.
Also, if you need to lose weight, cut down on the added fats (margarine, cream or cheese sauce), not the carbs.
To beat hunger pangs, lose weight and stay healthy, try these healthy carb tips:
- Substitute bran flakes for frosted flakes
- Substitute whole wheat bread for regular white bread
- Substitute rice cakes for cereal/granola bar
- Substitute wholegrain/whole wheat baguette for French bread
- Substitute wholewheat pasta for regular pasta
- Substitute brown rice for regular white rice
- Add wheatgerm and oats to your cereal
- Add chopped fruit to your cereal, salads and stews
- Serve beans, lentils and extra vegetables with your main meal