Many popular diets advocate a low carb or carb free intake as the way forward. Day in and day out I have Clients who ask WHY they need carbs?
Before we look at the reasons – let’s get an understanding of just how our bodies metabolise carbs.
All carbs, such as bread, pasta, cereal, rice, potatoes, fruit (yes it’s a carb!) dessert, sweets, chocolates, soda etc. are broken down into glucose (sugar) in the blood. Glucose is fuel and serves as our body’s primary source of Energy, however, it can be toxic when
excess amounts are present in the bloodstream. In order to clear excess
glucose from the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin, which moves glucose
from the bloodstream and stores it in the cells. This excess is stored in the
liver and the muscles as glycogen. BUT, once the liver and muscle cells are
full, the rest is stored as fat. Saturated fat.
When we eat too many carbohydrates, the pancreas does exactly what it is meant to. It releases insulin so that the excess glucose can be moved to the liver and muscle cells. When the liver and muscle cells are already full, they begin to become resistant to insulin. So the glucose stays in the blood. The pancreas panics, and sends MORE insulin,
causing MORE resistance! Eventually, the glucose makes its way to the fat cells
and is stored there. The more resistant our bodies become to insulin, the less
effectively it processes the carbs that we eat!
So in a nutshell. It’s not carbs that are a problem, it’s the AMOUNT of carbs that CAN be a problem. There is no doubt that the typical Western diet is too high in Carbs. The average South African woman consumes over 250g of carbohydrate per day. (roughly 120 – 140g should be the norm.) and to add insult to injury, this intake is based on refined, simple
carbohydrates, the worst type you can get!
So as a qualified and Registered Dietician, I recommend carbs. But there should definitely be a focus on AMOUNT, TIMING and TYPE.
Some general pointers:
- Choose whole grain, complex carbs such as fruit, whole wheat breads, pasta and rice, high fibre cereals and starchy vegetables.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates and simple sugars. White breads and cereals, cakes, pastries, sweets, chocolates, takeaways and convenience foods. (We know these are bad for us anyway!)
For more specific portions and guidelines, call me to book an appointment!