We throw around terms like Carbs, Fats and Protein (the 3 Macronutrients, or “Macros”) an awful lot, but many of us, myself included (before I started studying them), only had a basic knowledge about what these things actually are, where they come from, what they do and are they good for us?
Personally I feel there’s a lot of misinformation going around, and if you’re going to decide to skip the carbs altogether, reduce them etc., at least have a basic knowledge of them, because – not all carbs are the same.
Some basics on Carbs:
- Carbohydrates are found almost exclusively in plant based foods
- Carbs are not all the same – they can be split into 3 categories – sugar, starch and cellulose (the tough, indigestible fibre you get from eating your fruit and veg)
- They provide the bulk of the diet of most people across the world
- They’re found in grains, breads, flour products, most veg (especially the starchy ones like potatoes), beans and fruit
Why do we need them and are there any types of carbs that should be eaten in moderation?
- Carbs are our main source of energy. Without adequate carb intake, our bodies will burn fat, and after that, protein (muscle). Here is where some of the low carb diets will feature (atkins, keto), as they will kick in fat loss as carbs are not being consumed in adequate quantities.
- When we consume carbs, it is essentially converted into glucose which is blood sugar. NO! Sugar! I hear you say… but this is what our body fuel comes from. No, that’s unfortunately not an excuse to go and get your sugar from Cadburys chocolate bars, but we do get the glucose we need from the process of carb digestion, breaking down carbs into the blood sugar that our body cells need for things from exercise to simply breathing.
- We need dietary fibre. If you stop consuming carbs, you stop consuming dietary fibre, which is necessary for a healthy gut, and a healthy microbiome. Some fibre has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
Should I avoid carbs then? In my own, currently uneducated opinion, no, because:
- If you avoid them, your body will use fat and maybe protein for energy – your waistline may lessen, but so may your fibre intake. We need fibre to keep our bowels healthy, and our good bacteria fed (thus our immune systems more robust)
- If you knock out carbs, you’re also at risk of knocking out your nutrient intake and you could risk nutritional deficiency.
Personally, I feel the human body was simply built to consume carbs. Our cells need carbs, why deny them what they need? Just don’t go on a mad sugar rager…
P.S. My Featured Image for this post has just made me very hungry. Apologies if it’s had the same affect on you. Don’t go on a mad pasta rager either… unless you’re in Italy on holiday. Then it’s completely permitted 🙂