There seems to be a trend in peoples views where you can’t eat carbs and diet. I look on Instagram for inspiration for weight loss meal ideas. Looking for ideas other people have come up with can easily spur you into trying new things, or adapting those ideas to suit your own weight loss plan.
More and more I see people with the idea that carbs are bad when losing weight. I think a lot of this stigma comes from short-term (FAD) diets that you see circling around. Diets like the Atkins Diet, the Stillman Diet and the Wholefood Diet.
The thing these three example diets have in common is they are high fibre, low carb diet. Now I’ve read into the diets a little, but from that tag line, they are very contradictive. As far I as was aware, fibre is a carbohydrate. So how can you have a high fibre, low carb diet? The key is what carbs you can and cannot eat.
Carbs are made up of three different types of food. There is Sugar, Starch and Fibre. See, a high fibre diet is technically a high carb diet – but once you read into the above diets you see the actual ‘bad’ carbs they describe.
In the good old United Kingdom, we humans often overindulge in what is known as Free Sugars. These are sugars added to foods to make them sweet. Things like Chocolate, Fizzy Drinks and Breakfast Cereals are to name a few. High sugar content food is ok for a treat in a measured quantity every now and then, but if you’re controlling your weight you will want to look for lower sugar variants.
Things like Diet Fizzy Drinks and Low Sugar Breakfast Cereals are a better alternative. Some may be lower in sugar, some might replace the sugar with an artificial sweetener. Either way, cutting down sugar in your diet will make weight management that bit easier.
But you can’t cut sugar out completely. There are foods with naturally occurring sugars in them. Fruits are a prime example. We all know fruit is good for us (providing you’re not eating a truckload every day). But some fruits can be considered as higher in sugar content than others -that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it, just don’t eat as much of it.
Now, this is the carb group which people will often say to avoid. Starchy foods such as Pasta, Rice, Bread and Potato are often seen as bad by people losing weight. They may be considered as no go foods by some short-term diets. But your body needs some level of starchy food.
It’s these starchy foods that provide a slow release of energy throughout the day. Something your body needs to regulate itself. There are swaps which you can do to help take the healthier alternative of these starchy foods though;
- Swap White bread for Wholemeal
- Swap White pasta for Wholemeal
- Eat potato with the skin still on instead of peeling them
Wholemeal/wholegrain alternatives are often higher in Fibre content, which is why they’re a better choice compared to their none wholemeal/wholegrain partners. Just like potatoes with the skin on provides more fibre, there is fibre hidden in that jacket!
I hear people say they believe starchy foods are high in fat. This is why they often avoid them when dieting. But in actual fact, gram for gram, they contained fewer than half the calories of fat. So are they really that bad for you? I don’t think so. Not when eaten with a balanced diet of other food anyway.
The fibre in your diet has many qualities. This is why a lot of short-term diets use high amounts of fibre. Eating a good amount of fibre will make you feel fuller for longer. Which in turn leads to less snacking – a big win there really. We also know that a fibre rich diet will help with going to the toilet, which, let’s face it, isn’t a bad thing. It’s also linked to reducing the risk of the following conditions;
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Bowel Cancer
I bet you feel better about leaving that potato skin on your homemade chips now eh? Fibre is easy to find too and you likely eat more of it than you think. It can be found in everyday foods such as;
- Fruit and Veg (so make sure you get your 5-a-day in)
- Pulses like Beans, Chickpeas and Lentils
- Wholemeal/wholegrain foods such as Pasta, Rice, Bread and Cereals
- Unsalted nuts or seeds
There’s a good variety of food that posses good fibre qualities there, some of which you likely eat every day.
So, Should You Cut Out Carbs?
You can certainly cut out a lot of sugar from your diet (apart from that naturally occurring stuff in natural foods etc), but you really can’t cut carbs from your diet altogether. You need some level of carbs to fuel your body, it forms a big portion of your body’s energy supply.
Anyone who tells you they’re on a high fibre, low carb diet is lying. They’re on a high fibre, low starchy food diet. Fibre is a carb so the initial statement about their diet is a complete contradiction. But starchy carbs can be easily enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
I eat potato, rice and pasta in ‘unlimited’ quantity on Slimming World, but I have to have other foods to go with it. The idea is you balance your diet with the other food groups, fat and protein. Now Slimming World is a low-fat diet, so we mainly consume carbs (of some sort) and protein.
My wife can cook us a nice Carbonara with plenty of Tagliatelli (pasta). But we have to have at least a third of our plate consisting of what we call speed foods (fruits, veg, low-calorie foods etc). The idea is eating these lower calorie foods along with the starchy pasta, potato and rice will mean you don’t overindulge on the starchy stuff. As long as you eat until your satisfied and not completely stuffed then carbs can be your friend.