Can You Still Eat Carbs And Lose Weight?
It’s the age old question, isn’t it? Should we give up carbohydrates if we’re trying to lose weight? With diets such as the keto and Atkins diets, we’re constantly told that carbs are devil. But they taste so good, and sometimes only a bowl of pasta or a slice of toast will do.
So what’s the truth? Let’s find out!
Why are carbs ‘bad’ for us
When it comes to demonised foods, there aren’t many foods that are more demonised than our carby favourites, pasta and bread.
But the truth is, we need a certain amount of carbs in our diet. Carbs provide energy, just like the other two macronutrients, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates and proteins provide 4 calories of energy per gram, whereas fats provide 9 calories per gram. So, if we’re counting calories, then we need to keep fats to a minimum and fuel up on proteins and carbs.
The difference between proteins and carbs is in their constituent parts and how they’re broken down during digestion. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and as such, are broken down into amino acids when we eat them, for the body to then use for energy production, building muscle and cellular repair.
Carbs on the other hand, are made up of sugars, and when we eat them, the body breaks them down into their sugary constituent parts, flooding the bloodstream with sugar.
The main sugar is glucose, and glucose is essential for both muscle energy and brain function. If we don’t eat enough carbohydrate, we’re likely to feel lethargic and foggy headed. The problem is, if we eat too many carbohydrate laden foods, we have too much sugar in the blood.
Insulin is responsible for clearing away these sugars and sending them to the muscles and brain. Excess sugar is then stored as fat, an obvious no-no for weight loss. Also, the more sugar, the more insulin. High levels of insulin are linked with chronic inflammation, which can cause disease and also cause us to gain weight.
So, carbs aren’t inherently evil and out to make us gain weight, they’re just a devilish if we consume too many.
How many carbs should I eat?
As well as sugars, carbohydrate rich foods also provide essential vitamins and gut loving fibre and starch. So we do need to eat some as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Ideally, around a third of our daily meals should be made up of carbohydrates such as bread, pasta or rice. That said, if you’re trying to lose weight, you can safely reduce this a little bit if you wish to. Just make sure you’re replacing them with high protein foods instead of high fat foods. And always make around half of each meal fresh fruits and vegetables.
What do I eat if I’m minimising carbs?
You can still enjoy carbs, but perhaps have your spag bol with half your normal amount of spaghetti and load up on the bolognaise – just make it with low fat mince, turkey mince or a plant based alternative. If sandwiches are your thing, then try an open sandwich and only use one slice of bread instead of two.
Or try some our delicious high protein, low carb meal ideas!