High carb / low carb what’s the best for weight loss?
With diet trends changing by the second (or at least it seems that frequent!) it can be a real challenge keeping up with what the right approach to healthy eating is.
Carbohydrates are often the macro nutrient in the firing line and attracting the most attention. With low carb diets trending amongst celebrities and influencers… is this really the best way to go?
We’re going to answer all of this and more in this blog post!
Let’s start with what a carbohydrate actually is…
Because as dietitian professionals, we often hear from our clients that they are ‘avoiding all carbs’.
They then proceed to tell us that they eat fruit for breakfast, a yoghurt with lunch and legumes with dinner… all of which are in fact, carbohydrates.
See, carbs go well beyond just bread and pasta. They are the entire group of foods that when digested, break down into glucose. This includes all fruit, legumes, dairy products and grains.
So regardless of the natural or added sugar source in the food, it will eventually end up as sugar (or energy) in the body, in the form of glucose.
For this reason, not all sugar is something to fear. There are in fact healthy forms of sugar that the body and brain needs for fuel. These healthy types of sugar can be found in the foods listed above.
It’s the added sugar in foods like sweets, cakes, lollies, chocolate and pastries that need to be enjoyed in moderation.
Top Three Benefits Of Carbohydrate Foods
1. They Give You Energy
One of the big benefits of carbohydrate foods is that they are the bodies main source of energy, particularly the brain required this glucose for fuel. If you’re avoiding carbohydrates, its not uncommon to feel tired, lethargic and sluggish as the day progresses. Especially if you are active during the day and exercising regularly.
2. They Promote Healthy Digestion
Carbohydrate foods are also an excellent source of dietary fibre. This fibre helps to promote a heathy gut and good digestion and prevents conditions like bloating, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
3. They Help Prevent Weight Gain By Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
Because of the body and brains need for glucose to survive, when dietary intake is restricted, the pancreas kicks in to pick up the slack. This (often excessive) secretion of glucose into the body sends blood sugar levels up, making it difficult to control conditions like type 2 diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
Top Three Tips For Choosing The Right Carbohydrate Foods
1. Go Low GI
Not all carbs are equal though! As discussed earlier in this blog post, added sugars are digested faster and don’t contain the fibre needed to bring the nutritional and weight loss benefits of carbohydrate foods. That’s why you want to choose mostly low to moderate GI foods. Foods with a low GI take longer to digest, keep you feeling fuller for longer and don’t spike the blood sugar levels because of their slow release of glucose into the bloodstream.
A good rule of thumb is to go for the option that has the most fibre as this will always be lower GI. Low GI choices include fresh fruits, wholegrain breads, cereals and pastas and dairy foods.
2. Keep Portions To 1/4 Plate
Portions still matter! Just because a food is ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean you can eat mindless portions of it. When eating carbohydrate foods, be mindful and aware throughout the experience. Take small bites, chew well and eat slowly to enjoy the flavours more. This will help you to feel satisfied from a small portion and eliminate the need to ‘cut out carbs’ completely from your diet.
In the clinic we use a helpful plate model with our clients to show the perfect balanced meal. A tool like this can help you to learn and practice until it becomes a new habit.
3. Choose Wholegrain Where Possible
Rather than avoiding bread, pasta, rice and crackers all together, choose wholegrain instead. This fibre boost will help your to feel full, satisfied and aid with long term weight loss and weight maintenance. Wholegrain breads, brown rice, quinoa, brown pasta and rye based crackers with seeds are all great choices.
Instead of avoiding carbohydrate all together, how about trying some of the tips we’ve shared today so you can reap the health benefits of this important macronutrient.
We are a team of dietitian’s based in Albury, Australia and offer online and in person consultations for weight loss and diabetes. To learn more about our services and to book a free assessment call visit www.happyapplenutrition.com.au