The Truth about Carbs and Low Carb Diets…

Carbs are a controversial subject and have often received bad press from many weight loss advocates. At Well Aware, we want to shed some light on the issue.

First and foremost, what are carbs?

Carbohydrates provide energy for the central nervous system, brain and muscles. There are 2 types of carbohydrates – simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates are quickly digested and easily absorbed by the body and thus have a high glycemic level. They can spike your blood sugar levels as they are usually made with processed and refined sugars and contain little or no nutrients. Simple carbs are usually made with processed and refined sugars include white bread, white rice, white pasta, sweets, fizzy drinks and cakes.

Complex carbohydrates are digested at a much slower rate than their simple counterparts. They have a lower glycemic level, meaning you won’t crash an hour or so after eating them. Instead they will keep you fuller for longer and your blood sugar levels stable. Complex carbs include beans, pulses, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, rye bread, buckwheat, millet, oats and whole-grain breads.

The lowdown…

With diets like Atkins and Zone hitting headlines for their quick weight loss results, advocating little or no carbs, this has led us to believe that carbs are the enemy and that by eating them you will not enable you to loose weight. This is not entirely true. Whilst these sorts of diets do result in quick weight loss in the majority of people, it is unsustainable in the long term as it can lead to depression, anxiety, low energy and a number of other health problems.

vegetables sweet potatoes

Let’s keep it simple (excuse the pun!) It is the type of carbs you choose to eat which will cause you to put on weight or hinder your fat loss goals. Opt for complex carbohydrates over simple ones. Choose wholegrain and brown varieties of rice, bread and pasta (not white), throw in a few sweet potatoes, quinoa and oats for good measure and it will supercharge your workouts.  Also, make sure you load up on vegetables particularly leafy greens one and keep fruit to around 2 portions a day due to the high fructose (fruit sugar) content.

Brainpower

It has often been said that low or no carb diets cause depression. Top London-based personal trainer and performance nutritionist Gus Martin explains that, “the evidence suggests that no or very low carb diets can contribute to depressive feelings – through a lack of tryptophan (the main dietary amino acid precursor to serotonin) uptake.

In order for the brain to function it needs glucose. This is easily accessible from carbohydrates. I am not advocating gorging on cakes and refined carbohydrates. Instead, rather than cut carbs altogether or binge on refined ones (which is likely to happen if you starve your body), choose the complex varieties mentioned above. Gus also explains how “diets high in refined carbohydrates are also associated to feelings of depression. This is likely because of poor blood sugar balance.”

There is no one size fits all with diet, you have to try things out and see what works for your body.

Remember: EVERYTHING. IN. MODERATION. Your body likes variety and with so many wonderful foods out there to fuel it, mix it up and keep your body guessing… variety is the spice of life after all!

For more information on how Well Aware can help you get your diet on track or lose a few pounds, email rebecca@wellawareuk.com for a FREE consultation.