Let them eat carbs!

31.03.2016

There’s no getting away from it, we need carbs. Carbs are the body’s main fuel for energy. Did you know that 20% of all of our daily requirements goes on keeping our brain functioning and the best fuel for that is carbs?

Did you ever go on the Atkin’s Diet? This was a very popular diet a while ago; high protein, high fat and hardly any carbs. I expect that you felt great to start with and lost a shed load of weight. But, the longer you stayed on this diet  you may have felt tired and a bit muzzy headed, but worst of all, once you stopped the diet you will probably have put all the weight back on again. (And you lost all your friends because of your awful breath caused by the large amount of protein!!)

Going by my own personal experiences, I can’t function without carbs; I have no energy, I visibly shake due to low blood sugar levels and find it hard to concentrate (obviously due to the huge size of my brain!!!)  I am very active so I know that I have to eat carbs to fuel my body otherwise I’m good for nothing!

How much carbs do we need?

The amount of carbs is dictated by your activity levels, weight age and gender. For example, a 35 year old woman who weighs 60kg and exercises for 4 hours  a week could eat 4g of carbs per kg per day but if the same women upped her activity levels to train for a marathon she may need 10-12g of carbs per kg per day. So, it makes sense that on the days that you are exercising ,eat more carbs and cut back on the days when you’re not so active.

Athletes will have their food intake worked out scientifically, they will be eating a lot of food which will be a balance of carbs, protein and fats (macronutrients) because their activity levels are so high their body will be able to utilise the carbs and they won’t gain weight. Unfortunately, you will see some retired athletes who still eat the same amount of food as they did when they were competing; you just have to look at some of the ex football players -turned- pundits on TV for evidence of this!

Carbs all contain different concentrations of glucose. Some foods release glucose into your blood stream all in one hit which gives you a sugar high and leaves you bouncing off the ceiling. This is fine if you need quick release energy during an endurance event for example. The best food I’ve ever tasted was at the last stage of a marathon when I was offered a jaffa cakes, ordinarily I hate jaffa cakes but my body needed glucose and quick!

Day to day this isn’t what we need, we need carbs which give us slow release glucose to keep sugar levels stable, no sugar highs and dips to make us feel worse and hungry but keeps us feeling full for longer.

Biology lesson

Cakes, biscuits, chocolate all taste good but are not great for us. They have little nutritional benefits to us and really do mess about with our health. Pay attention, quick biology lesson for you….

Our pancreas produces insulin to help sugar molecules go where they need to go. The more sugar that enters your blood stream at any given time the more insulin is required. If you are physically active soon after eating carbs insulin will do a great job of delivering glucose to be used as fuel. If you are sedentary it doesn’t work so well.

Over eating too many carbs can overload your system and the pancreas pumps out loads of insulin to utilise the increase in glucose. Too much insulin in your blood (which happens when you eat too much for your energy demands) is bad for our health and can over time increase the chances of developing diabetes type 2. Insulin is your ‘fat storage hormone’ when the insulin levels are too high you will not burn fat as fuel which again, will lead to weight gain.

What should you eat?

Think of carbs and I expect you think of weight bread, white rice, roast potatoes and cake. If your diet consists of mainly these foods then yes, your health will probably suffer. Did you know that there are carbs in fruit and veg? Much better for you and they are the best carbs to eat as they are slow release choices which also provide vitamin and minerals. Try including these foods into your daily diet.

Follow the rules…

Carbs aren’t the demons that you think they are. It’s the choices we make that do that damage….

So, you now know that not carbs are not our enemy, choose wisely and they will help you to have more energy, feel less lethargic, be more alert and help you to lose weight!

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