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Are Carbohydrates Bad For You? A Top Nutritionist Weighs In

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Carbohydrates (or carbs) proceed to be demonised on the subject of health and nutrition, but do they really live as much as this popularity? The short answer isn’t any, the longer answer? Well, let’s dive into it. 

Just so we’re on the identical page, carbohydrates are one in all the three macronutrients (the opposite two are protein and fat), that are nutrients that our body needs in larger amounts. Whereas micronutrients (like vitamins and minerals) are those who we want in relatively small amounts.

Carbohydrates, as a bunch, will be further divided into sugars, starches and sophisticated carbohydrates. 

  • Sources of starchy carbs include foods like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals.
  • Sources of sugar: include table sugar, sweets, cakes and pastries, sweetened drinks, honey and syrups, and juices.
  • Sources of fibre include whole grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes and pulses, nuts and seeds.

Let’s tackle a few of the common myths and misconceptions about carbohydrates:

“Carbs cause weight gain”

This message is massively over-simplified and infrequently fuels the fear of carbohydrates that so many individuals experience. Carbohydrates are usually not inherently bad for you or fattening. It’s calories, not carbohydrates, that result in weight gain. 

The opposite debate that folks often have is whether or not low carb or low fat is best for weight reduction. This was recently addressed (again) by a year-long randomised clinical trial which found that a low-fat food regimen and a low-carb food regimen produced similar weight reduction and enhancements in metabolic health markers. So carbs don’t cause weight gain, and if weight reduction is your goal, the first focus ought to be achieving a calorie deficit with a balanced food regimen, inclusive of all food groups. 

“Carbs aren’t essential for a healthy food regimen”

While lots of us could do with reducing the quantity of free sugars in our food regimen, carbohydrates play a central role in a balanced food regimen by being the body’s (and the brain’s!) preferred source of fuel.

Many carbohydrate-containing foods are also very nutritious, including high-fibre foods like whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Fibre is a kind of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down, so it passes through our gut into our large intestine, providing bulk to stool and stopping constipation. Some sorts of fibre also feed our good gut bacteria – allowing them to thrive and, in turn, support our gut health and overall health.  

“You shouldn’t eat carbs at night”

There’s no timer in our body meaning eating carbs after 6pm is harmful or results in weight gain. Nonetheless, there’s rather a lot more research coming out the consequences of eating (normally) at evening time and the way it affects the body’s metabolism and our long-term health. 

While more research in humans is required here, normally, it’s best to devour your meals and snacks inside the daytime and never too near bedtime. After all, sometimes life happens, which can mean having late dinners or a midnight snack (because dinner didn’t quite satisfy you), but that’s okay, and it’s what you do more often than not that matters most to our long-term health.

“Brown carbohydrates are at all times the higher option”

Now we have all been told that it’s at all times best to go for wholemeal, wholegrain or brown versions of carbohydrate-containing foods when considering our health. The major reason for this advice is since the ‘brown’ version tends to be higher in fibre, a nutrient which within the UK we are likely to under-consume. So that is a very good piece of recommendation, but for some people, white versions of carbohydrates could also be a greater option. 

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