Carbs- Friend or Foe?

How do you know which carbs are good or bad for you? We all know that carbs definitely get a bad wrap, but all carb’s created equally?

Thinking about carbs probably conjures up images of anything and everything you’ve been programmed to avoid: pasta, cookies, cake, bread. These foods get a bad rap, so it’s no wonder that so many of us get the impression that carbs are bad for you. Nutritional advice in the past has trained us to almost fear them—and feel guilty for breaking down and indulging in their dense, bready goodness

Over the years, carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation. Diets such as Atkins and South Beach promote easy, rapid weight loss that can be very attractive to someone trying to lose weight.

By restricting the amounts of carbohydrate that you eat, these diets claim that you can turn your body into a fat-burning machine. When you limit carbohydrates, however, you deprive your body of a main source of fuel — and many essential nutrients that you need to stay healthy.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are foods that get converted into glucose, or sugar, in our bodies during digestion. Glucose is a main source of fuel for our body. It is especially important for the brain, which cannot easily use other fuel sources (such as fat or protein) for energy.

There are two kinds of carbohydrates:

  • Simple carbohydrates include sugars found in foods such as table sugar, honey, dairy products, fruit and fruit juice.
  • Complex carbohydrates are starches — long chains of glucose molecules — which include grain products, such as bread, crackers, pasta and rice. Some vegetables — corn, peas, white and sweet potatoes, and butternut and winter squash — are high in starch. Complex carbohydrates can be broken down further into refined and whole grain carbohydrates.

Are all carbohydrates created equal?

All carbohydrates turn into glucose and raise our blood sugar. But some do it faster than others. Controlling blood glucose is important for weight management as well as diabetes control.

Fibre is important for your digestive health as well as regulating blood glucose. Foods with fibre, such as broccoli, beans, and apples with the skin, 100% whole-wheat bread take longer to be digested, so glucose is released into the bloodstream slowly.

Refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and white pasta, have had their fibre and nutrients removed. Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, have not. Therefore, the glucose from refined carbohydrates can get into the blood stream faster than the glucose from whole grains.

Which nutrients am I missing if I cut out whole grains and fruit from my diet?

The nutrients found in whole grains include essential fatty acids: the B vitamins, folate, vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. Whole grains also have fibre. Fruit and starchy vegetables contain many vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that form a plants immune system. They help prevent disease in humans when eaten. Phytonutrients include carotenoids and flavonoids.

What does my body use for fuel if I am not getting enough carbohydrates?

If you are not getting enough carbohydrates from your diet, then your body must use fat and protein for energy. This is why the carbohydrate-restricted diets claim they are great for weight loss. However, neither protein nor fat is an efficient source of energy.

  • Fat digestion – Fat does not completely digest when it is used as an energy source. By-products called ketones are formed. Ketones are mildly acidic. They can build up in the blood and make it more acidic. Over time this may be harmful to the body.
  • Protein digestion – Protein’s main job is to be a building block, not an energy source. Using protein for energy can compromise the building of muscles and other cells.

Which carbohydrates should I eat?

  • Limit the amount of refined sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave, honey and white and brown sugar. These are often found in cakes, cookies and donuts. These lack nutrients and are high in calories.
  • Choose whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta and whole-wheat bread. To ensure that you are buying a whole-grain product, check the ingredient list. Look for the words “100% whole grain.” If you see whole or whole grain listed as the first ingredient, then the product probably is mostly whole grain, but also has refined grains. The label won’t tell you how much, so pick products with the words 100% whole grain in the ingredient list. Don’t rely on the front of the package or colour of the food!

What are some different whole grains to try?

  • Amaranth – Serve as a warm porridge in the morning or mix with vegetables.
  • Barley (hulled) – Use in soup instead of rice or pasta.
  • Brown rice – Use in place of white rice in recipes.
  • Quinoa – Mix with vegetables to make a salad or stir-fry.
  • Wheat berries – Mix with vegetables to make a salad.

So the bottom line is find a balance- not all carbs are created equally, yet part of a healthy diet includes Healthy Carbs- Don’t Skip the Carbs!

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In a perfect world, we would all be eating the perfect amounts of the perfect types of food each day to meet these requirements. Like most of us, it is hard to rely on, and stick to only eating the correct foods, and correct amounts of good nutrients recommended per day. That’s why the products found at Shred Squad can compliment a balanced diet, and can provide you with all of the daily requirements for good health! At Shred Squad there are products to suit every body and every need.

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*Shred Squad always recommends seeking medical advice when pregnant, changing your diet or when consuming new products you are unsure of.

Shred Squad Group is a proud Corporate Sponsor of RSPCA Australia- a portion of every single order is donated to RSPCA Australia.