Do carbs make you fat?

Reasons to eat carbs – why you will want to eat bread again

Carbs are an important source of fibre

Carbs (the right kind) are an important source of dietary fibre which can help us to lose weight. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah followed the eating habits of middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fibre intake lost weight. Women who reduced fibre in their diets gained. Good quality carbohydrates contain important dietary fibre which is a type of indigestible complex carbohydrate.

Swapping refined carbohydrates for whole grains may even help to reduce body fat. In a study by The Journal of Nutrition adults who ate about 3 servings of whole grains a day had about 2.4 percent less body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate less than a quarter of a serving!

Good for Your Heart

Research suggests that increasing your soluble-fibre intake (a type of fibre found in carb-rich foods like oatmeal and beans) by 5 to 10 grams each day could result in a 5 percent drop in “bad” LDL cholesterol. People who eat more whole grains (think brown rice, oats quinoa) are more likely to have lower LDL cholesterol and higher “good” HDL cholesterol.

Carbs boost your mood

Carbs help to promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. Consuming a carbohydrate-rich, low protein meal increases levels of tryptophan and serotonin in the brain. Although a carbohydrate meal itself lacks tryptophan, the meal causes insulin to be secreted. Insulin, in turn, decreases plasma levels of amino acids that would ordinarily compete with tryptophan for transport across the blood-brain barrier. In a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who followed a very low carbohydrate diet for a year—which allowed only 20 to 40 grams of carbs daily, about the amount in just 1/2 cup of rice plus one piece of bread—experienced more depression, anxiety and anger than those assigned to a low-fat, high-carb diet that focused on low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruit and beans

Carbs will help you lose weight

Eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bran cereal, 3 hours before exercise may help burn more fat, according to a study from the Journal of Nutrition. Eating “slow-release” carbohydrates didn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, such as white toast. In turn, insulin levels didn’t spike as high and because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.

What about the myth that carbs make you gain weight?

Not all carbs are equal. Highly refined carbohydrates such as white breads, pasta, rice, cakes, biscuits etc. spike blood sugar and insulin levels which when eaten in excess may promote weight gain. Refined carbs are low in fibre, often low in nutrients and high in salts and sugars. Choose slow releasing complex carbs such as legumes, brown rice, oats, wholegrain breads as your main carbohydrate intake but by all means allow yourself the odd treat.

Do carbs make you bloated?

Low-carb diets do help you to lose weight quickly, but it is important to understand that you aren't magically burning fat, you are losing fluid. Reducing carbohydrates and increasing protein causes the body to lose excess water. Carbohydrates actually encourage your body to hold on to water, so the more carbs you eat, the more water you retain. For every 1g of glycogen stored in the body, we retain 4g of water. If we eat a high carbohydrate diet we hold excess fluid. The amount of carbs we need on a daily basis varies for everyone depending on weight, size and activity levels. The smaller and less active you are the less carbohydrate you need for energy and the more that will be stored as glycogen which also promotes more water to be retained. When we eat more than the body can store we then start to gain weight.

Choose slow release carbs that are high in fibre and rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, brown rice, quinoa, oats and wholegrains. Look to reduce refined carbohydrates such as sugars, white breads, pastas, white rice, cakes, pies and biscuits and replace with more nutrient dense options.

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