Carbohydrates – what’s the deal?

From our favourite food group to the most hated macronutrient alive: carbohydrates have taken a beating in the popularity stakes.

🍞 So what are carbohydrates? And why the sudden fall from grace?

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that supply our bodies with energy. Essentially, all carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules (such as glucose and fructose) joined up together. When our body digests carbohydrates we break them down into single sugar units, so we can digest them. Carbohydrates that we can’t breakdown and digest is known as fibre – this forms the bulk of our stools and feeds the good bacteria in our gut.

We all know that added, or free, sugars are not so great for our health, especially when we eat too much of them. This has caused a lot of us to fear other foods containing carbs, because they DO turn into sugar in our bodies.

🍞 So what foods contain carbs?

🍎 Fruits and vegetables
🍠 Starchy veges such as potato, kumara, taro, and parsnip
🍚 Wholegrains such as wheat, corn, oats, rice, rye, quinoa, amaranth and millet
🍞 All breads, cereals, muesli bars, biscuits etc (anything containing wheat flour)
🍭 Anything containing any type of sugar, with the exception of stevia
🍩 Most processed foods, all the obvious ones (as above), including a few unexpected ones, such as low quality sausages, sushimi and fish fingers (they have wheat or rice as fillers and as a coating)

🍞 So if carbs turn into sugar in our bodies does that mean they are bad for us?

Carbs are a great source of energy and when eating wholefood versions of carbs they are filled with fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They can be an excellent (and relatively cheap!) source of nutrition. Whole food carbs such as fruit and wholegrains are digested slowly and don’t impact our body in the same way as pure sugar.

Refined carbs, such as processed cereals, white sugar, and white flour are more easily digested, so can lead to a “sugar spike” and leave you feeling hungry shortly after eating them and they carry very little in the way of nutrition.

πŸŒπŸ‡πŸ‰πŸ’πŸ Moral of the story? πŸπŸ’πŸ‰πŸ‡

🌽Carbohydrates are not to be feared – wholefood based carbohydrates are a great source of fibre and nutrition, especially fruit and veggies.
🍠 Aim for wholefood versions of all carbohydrates, as much as possible and eat less of the processed options.
πŸ“ We all have different diet and energy needs, so will need to eat different amounts of carbohydrates to suit our body and our health goals (for example I have around 100 grams of carbs a day and Miss 10, who has high energy needs, has around 350 grams of carbs each day)
🍐 adding protein foods and healthy fats to a carb rich meal, helps to slow digestion and keep us fuller for longer