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  • Hanna Watson

Confused about Carbs? Well, guess what? They're not all 'bad'.

Carbs, they're so confusing.

Poor carbohydrates. I feel that they are a very misunderstood macronutrient. I hear a lot people tell me they’re avoiding carbs because they read somewhere that carbohydrates make you put on weight.

What a generalisation! I mean, yes, there is an element of truth to that however it depends on the quantity and quality of carbohydrate that you’re consuming.

A key point to remember is this:

Not all carbohydrates are equal. You’ve got the good carbs and the not so good carbs.

What are the good carbs?

These are the ‘slow carbs’ (complex carbohydrates). The carbs that don’t spike your blood sugars (low glycaemic index) and can include vegetables, starchy vegetables (sweet potato), whole grains, legumes and beans.

Before we move on, I’d like to highlight some things about the humble potato (which often receives a bad rap):

  • Potatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, copper and B6.

  • They are a good source of resistant starch which improves insulin sensitivity, doesn’t spike blood sugar and acts as a prebiotic (food for your gut). The latter is important.

  • Eating potatoes cold increases their resistant starch content. Awesome. Potato salad anyone?

  • The key is to not overdo the potato or other starchy vegetables when eating a meal. Ensure you have leafy greens, cruciferous veggies or other coloured veg on your plate too.

  • Not suitable for everyone, especially those sensitive to nightshades (Solanaceae).

What are the not so good carbs?

These are the opposite to the ‘slow carbs’ and are commonly referred to as simple carbohydrates and include refined pasta, breads, pastries, sugary drinks including fruit juice and are known to spike your blood sugars.

Not so good carb - refined white bread

If you find that you have an insatiable appetite for these ‘naughty’ carbs or too much refined sugar, I encourage you to get in touch – there could be something else going on! Together, we can get to the bottom of it.

Did you know that vegetables are carbohydrates?

We’re told time and time again that vegetables are one of the best things to eat for optimum health and weight loss. It’s true!

Here’s something you may not have considered. All plant foods are carbohydrates therefore all vegetables contain carbohydrates (some veggies contain more carbs than others) and we should be eating a minimum of 5 serves of vegetables per day.

A friendly reminder: 1 serve = 1 cup salad vegetables (leaves) or ½ cup vegetables.

Many of us don’t come close to this recommendation. Be honest, how many serves of vegetables have you had today? Vegetables are rich in fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are so beneficial to our health.

If you subscribe to a very low carb diet or avoid carbs altogether, then you may need to consider the health of your microbiome. Good carbohydrates provide fibre and resistant starch and we need these for our gut health. Diversity is key. The more veggies/plant based foods we eat the better. We will have a healthier microbiome when incorporating good carbohydrates into our diet.

Well, I hope that you’re feeling somewhat better about including ‘good & slow’ carbohydrates as part of your healthy and balanced diet? If you’re concerned about the state of your gut health, please get in touch and book a consultation here. I’d love to assist you.

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