One of the top 10, if not top 5 questions i get asked is how can i eat so many carbohydrates and not gain weight? Or Aren’t carbohydrates bad for you?
I used to once think the same way about carbohydrates and i would have done absolutely anything else than to eat a bowl of pasta or to eat potatoes. When i was around 13 i got told to eat potatoes as they would make me gain weight and from that moment on i feared potatoes immensely thinking they would make me gain weight as soon as i ate them.
In the past there used to be a fear of fat and people ate alot more carbohydrate-rich food compared to food with lots of fat, now it seems to be the opposite.
Carbs i.e shortened version of carbohydrates incase you didn’t know!
Carbs aren’t something you need to fear, they are something you need. Of course in my nutritional studies we learned that carbohydrates aren’t as important as protein used for muscle building and structure in the body and the essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6. So you can survive without carbohydrates as your body can convert protein and fat into glucose, which is done in the liver, requires energy to do it and is not a fast form of getting energy. But also if you are ona very low carbohydrate diet for a long time the body will begin to convert the lipids into ketoacids which the brain will use for energy, however if the amount of ketoacids builds up in your body it can make your blood more “sour” i.e a lower p.h level as the ketoacids are acids and that is lifethreatening, i.e you can end up in a coma.
So of course you can eat your low carb diet and survive, but you are not doing yourself any benefits as glucose is the main source of energy for your body. If you eat high fat and low carb you will more likely feel tired and not have as quick of an energy source. However as glycogen, glucose which is stored in the body, holds onto water, it means that when you go from eating high carb to low carb you will lose some water weight as the glykogen stores are used up. This is what makes people think that LCHF is the best thing for weightloss, but once you begin eating carbohydrates again the water will be retained again.
So why do we need carbohydrates?
Because they give us energy. It is the brains main source of energy. Also complex carbs often contain alot of vitamins, minerals and fibers which are good for our health.
There are simple and complex carbs and it is the complex ones which you should eat most of.
Simple ones are the quick broken down forms of carbs which also have less nutritional value compared to the complex ones. I.e white sugar, candy, soda, biscuits and even dairy products and fruit are counted as simple carbohydrates.
The complex carbohydrates are grains, vegetables, whole grains such as whole grain pasta, bread, brown rice, different forms of vegetables, oats, whole grain flour etc
The complex carbs contain more fiber which is good for your gut bacteria and also gives you a bulk effect and can be more filling, not to mention that a wide range of veggies and fruit will give you all the vitamins and minerals you need. So people who eat a very strict LCHF diet often just eat cucumber and salad as their vegetables and those contain little to nutrients as they are mostly made of water and you would need to eat atleast a kilo to get some moderate form of vitamins and minerals. So those people often rely on multivitamins to get their vitamins and minerals from as their diet contains so much fat, and they might not get so many fibers in their diet either which can cause some blockage in the intestines/slow movement, if i put it that way!
Of course if you eat too much simple carbohydrates where it is mostly sugar laden food with little to no nutritional value then your blood sugar will rise and fall and leave you feeling hungry often. But also a diet made up of lots of sugar isn’t good for anyones health or skin, nails, hair, mood, energy. So the recommendation is foremost complex carbohydrates, trying to eat 5 servings of fruit and veg a day as well as protein and healthy fat sources!
A balanced diet is key and you shouldn’t fear carbohydrates or fat or protein or any food. It’s all about a balance. And some people feel best with low/moderate carb intake and that’s ok, we are all different. Some people feel best with a high intake of carbs and a lower intake of fat, but either way you should not cut out a whole food group or fear certain foods or food groups. They are all essential and necessary!!
For me personally, i guess i eat a higher intake of carbs than regular people as most vegan food is rich in carbohydrates. I feel this helps me feel most full and balanced, i used to have alot more cravings than i do now and i feel more full and satisfied compared to before i went vegan. This is of course just benefits to everything else about a vegan diet, but i find that if i eat a low carb meal i won’t feel satisfied even if its a salad with lots of nuts and avocado and oil, that fat won’t fill me up and instead i need to add potatoes, bread and beans to my salad to keep me full and satisfied!
Find the balance that works best for you, but remember that carbohydrates aren’t bad for you. They are a macronutrient which your body needs. They fuel your body and your mind so that you can work, study, concentrate, live life!