“Carbohydrates make me fat…”
“I am not going to eat rice or noodles for my meals.”
You may have heard your friends or even loved ones discussing “Low or No Carb” diets, avoiding foods high in carbohydrates and you may have even considered joining them. Over the years, carbohydrates have been singled out as a potential cause for weight-gain.
So is it true that intake of carbohydrates result in weight gain? Could carbohydrates be harmful to our body?
STOP!!!… Before you join the masses who painstakingly count all the carbs on their plates, we have proof that will make you think twice.
We revisit the science behind carbohydrates and help clarify the misconceptions about carbohydrates.
(1) What exactly are Carbohydrates?
To put it simply, Carbohydrates are made up of carbons, hydrogen and oxygen molecules.
They are divided into 2 simple categories, simple and complex Carbohydrates.
- Simple Carbohydrates are:
–monosacharrides (single sugar unit) e.g. glucose, fructose
–disaccharides (double sugar unit) e.g. sucrose, lactose
- Complex Carbohydrates are larger molecules examples in our diet include breads, grains, cereal, milk, legumes and dietary fibre
(2) How does our body utilise Carbohydrates?
Our body is able to break down both simple and complex carbohydrates into glucose which is the most preferred fuel used by the body.
The brain and central nervous system exclusively recognise and prefer glucose as their sole energy source compared to other nutrients. This may be why avoiding carbohydrates in our diet can result in lethargy, headaches and even mood swings.
Our body also uses complex carbohydrates like dietary fibre to assist in improving bowel movements and help ease constipation.
(3) Do Carbohydrates make me fat?
The energy produced by the three major nutrients is:
*Carbohydrate – 4 calories per gram
*Protein – 4 calories per gram
*Fat – 9 calories per gram
Hence, if we compared per unit nutrient, fat has the highest calories compared to either carbohydrate or protein. In reality, one would be wise to cut back on the fat rather than the carbohydrates.
A higher energy intake than output causes weight gain. Excess weight is often gained by:
– A lack of physical activity
– Excessive and uncontrolled eating habits –poor portion control for e.g. eating two bowls of rice/noodles per meal or continuously snacking throughout the day.
– poor food choices i.e. high calorie foods e.g. fried, oily foods including fried rice or noodles, French fries, pizza
(4) The goodness of Carbohydrate?
Carbohydrate foods such as grains, pasta, bread, rice, legumes, milk, vegetables and fruits often contain dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals and are often referred to as nutrient dense foods.
(5) How do I choose my Carbohydrate foods wisely?
Consider the points below for healthier Carbohydrate selections:
- Choose carbohydrate foods that are cooked using healthier cooking methods e.g. baked potato instead of French fries
- Remember to practice portion control
- Choose wholegrain bread and cereals, brown rice, brown rice vermicelli, wholegrain pasta
- Opt for low fat dairy e.g. Low fat Milk, yoghurt, Cheese
- Include a variety of fruits & vegetables in your diet daily
Eat Sensibly: The Food pictures below together with the calorie information shows how easy it is to over-indulge in high calorie foods resulting in weight gain.
1 Banana = 70 Calories
|1 Bunch = 280 Calories||1 piece goring pisang = 197 Calories||
1 Banana Split = 880 Calories
Practise portion control & moderation to prevent weight gain.
Article Written by Team Fitness Guru’s dietitians:
Angela Ng & Sarah Sinaram
Accredited Practising Dietitians with the Dietitians Association of Australia
Article endorsed by Sharm, TFG’s Master Trainer
All Rights Reserved. Copyright TeamFitnessGuru.com