Carbohydrates: Why we shouldn’t cut them out.
Carbs for weight loss
A really popular diet is the low carbohydrate diet such as the keto diet or the Atkins diet. Both require you to reduce carbohydrate intake or diminish carbohydrate intake all together. Naturally you increase your protein and fat intake to compensate. Cutting out carbohydrates from your diet will reduce your body weight for two reasons; Firstly you are suddenly reducing your energy (calorie) intake at each meal, which overall will reduce energy (calorie) intake. Secondly, for every 1g of glycogen (the body’s form of carbohydrate storage) stored within the body, you will hold up to 3-4g of water weight. So naturally, if you don’t eat carbohydrates, you can’t hold that water. Hence why you see some fast results initially.
Is weight loss possible with carbohydrates?
Of course! Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source and glucose (free roaming sugar within the body) is the brains only useable source.
Weight loss is mainly determined by energy in and energy out. This is very simplified. There are many other determining factors such as hormones, food preferences, relationship with food, energy output, overall activity levels, etc. which can affect weight loss.
So how can you manage your carb intake and weight loss?
Ideally, we use a tool belt. Finding a variety of tools that work for you to manage weight loss can be a great way to reach any target goals, such as a healthy weight.
· Food diary – for example, in an actual diary or via a tracking app such as MyFitnessPal, nutritics or Fitbit. But only if this is suitable for you and have no previous record of eating disorders.
· Tracking your period for women. This can help you understand why you’re feeling those cravings, energy level changes, or hunger.
· Using a fist size portion for carbohydrates. Without using scales, this is a great way to portion out your daily carbohydrate portions.
· The Eatwell guide is also such a great way to manage your plate (gov.uk 2016).
· Using scales to track portion size. If you have no history of eating disorders, then this can be a useful tool.
· Intuitive eating – I am a real advocate for listening to your body’s needs and wants. And of course, this includes chocolate and crisps, that is perfectly normal, but be mindful of quantities.
Is it effective long term?
Reducing or cutting carbohydrate in
take long term isn’t ideal. Personally, I love my bagel in the morning or my overnight oats to start my day right. Removing whole food groups reduces opportunities of vital nutrients. Such as fibre, primary energy source, B vitamins, some vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and more (BDA.uk.com) (NHS.uk).
Good forms of carbohydrates
If we can find wholegrain carbs, then you’re on to a winner. Here are some filling wholegrain carbohydrate options you might like –
1. Wholegrain rice
2. Fruit – fresh or canned
3. Wholewheat bread
4. Whole porridge oats
6. Potatoes or sweet potatoes
7. Vegetables – fresh, canned, or frozen
8. Wholewheat pasta
9. Wholewheat flour
10. Wholewheat noodles
The amount you need will depend on your weight, activity levels, and gender.
If in doubt about how much you require or need any further advice on diet ask a professional for dietary advice.
BDA.com (2020) Carbohydrates. Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/carbohydrates Accessed on: 29.07.2022
Gov.uk (2016) Eatwell guide Available at: Eatwell guide 2016 FINAL MAR29 (publishing.service.gov.uk) Accessed on: 31.07.2022
Fernández-Elías VE, Ortega JF, Nelson RK, Mora-Rodriguez R (2015) Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans. Available at: Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans - PubMed (nih.gov) Accessed on: 25.07.2022
NHS.uk (2022) Vitamins and minerals. Available at: Vitamins and minerals - Others - NHS (www.nhs.uk). Accessed on: 29.07.2022