Low carb diets were once hailed the key to fast track your weight loss. Anyone who has ever embarked on a fad diet knows the pain of cutting carbs out completely. Somewhere along the way, carbs got a really bad reputation and are often now the first thing to go when someone says they want to lose weight. What would you say if we told you that you can still eat carbs AND lose weight? Well, you can and we’re about to show you how.
When we see a rapid scale drop from cutting carbs (which is why most people will revert to this method of dieting) it is in fact mostly water drop, not fat drop. For every gram of carbohydrate stored in the muscle, there are approximately 2-3 grams of water retained. Therefore cutting carbs means your body will use the stored glycogen in the muscles as energy and as it is not getting replaced through your diet it removes all the water with it. Which is why when you go back to eating carbs again, which we all do, you get a rapid weight gain and feel fuller. Which gives us the psychological thought process that carbs = bad. Only a calorie surplus will make you gain fat.
Your body needs carbs to utilise as energy. Carbohydrates are actually your body’s main source of energy. Basically, they’re broken down into glucose before being absorbed into your blood to be used as energy and helps assist with insulin. Fuelling everything from going for a run to simply taking a breath. Any unused glucose is converted by the body to glycogen, which is found in the liver and muscles. The slower the glucose release the better – not all carbs are made equal.
The general rule of thumb when choosing carbs to include in your diet is if they are full of fibre (complex carbs) they are good for you. If they are refined (simple carbs) they offer little to no health benefits (this doesn’t mean you cant eat them in moderation just means aim to reduce them and prioritise complex carbs)
- Wholegrain/wheat bread, pasta, flour
- Brown rice
- Barley, oats, quinoa
- Starchy Vegetables
- Sugary drinks
- White bread
Complex carbohydrates are slower to digest which means they release energy slower, maintain your blood glucose levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Simple carbohydrates are digested quicker providing you with a fast energy hit, they spike your blood glucose levels quickly giving you that rush and then making it drop just as quickly giving you that lull and will leave you feeling hungrier faster.
There are many reasons to love carbs, they provide fuel, they provide fibre and mostly they make us feel good. Cutting carbs completely is not sustainable and should only be used as a medical intervention prescribed by your doctor and healthcare team. A balanced diet that practices portion control will lead to long term results. Depending on your goal, eat within a caloric amount that supports that goal. Make sure 40% – 60% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates. And aim to eat a balanced diet filled with complex carbs and keeping the simple carbohydrates to a minimum remember to utilise that 80/20 rule.