Five Myths About Carbs
By: Lydia Smith, Nutritionist
OK, so you hear a lot about carbohydrates, but what is the truth about them?
Myth # 1: All carbs are equal = FALSE
Carbohydrate quality is important. There are nutrient deficient sources of carbs and nutrient rich sources of carbs. You’re looking for the nutrient rich sources of carbs, including those that are low GI such as vegetables and whole grains, because they will give you a more satisfied feeling and give you longer lasting energy without necessarily costing more calories. Nutrient deficient carbs, including high GI foods such as white bread and white rice, will give you only short-lasting energy, and you will need to eat more and consume more calories to keep going in your day.
If you love carb-rich potatoes, go for sweet potatoes, which are low GI. If you eat a lot of white rice and hate brown rice, choose basmati because it’s also low GI. Alternatively, you can mix some wild rice in with your white rice, which gives it a yummy, nutty texture.
Below are some examples of good carbohydrates and carbs you should avoid:
Good carbs (Low GI)
· wholegrain pasta, bread, cereals
· fresh fruit
· legumes and beans
· nuts and seeds
Not so good carbs (High GI)
· lollies and sweets
· white potatoes
· baked goods
· most cereals, white bread and white pasta
· soft drinks (or soda)
· (pretty much any white or highly processed food)
Myth # 2: Carbs make you fat = FALSE
Including carbs in your diet will not make you fat. Fat accumulates if you consume more calories in a day than you burn. Even if all you eat is vegetables, you will still put on weight if you consume more than you need because your body converts any leftover calories to storage in the form of fat.
On the other hand, everybody needs good, balanced nutrition. If all you eat is carbs, your body will cry out for other nutrients. So how many carbs should I be eating, do I hear you say? Use the following steps (in the table below) to find out how much is right for your body.
Myth # 3: When on a diet it is good to cut out carbs completely for a few days = FALSE
Carbs are essential as they are the body’s main source of fuel, especially for the brain. Cut these out and you’re most likely going to get massive headaches, feel very tired, and have no energy to think straight. Not healthy!
As an alternate to cutting out carbs completely, it is a better idea to only cut out empty (nutrient deficient) carbs and replace them with something more substantial. This will fill you up and keep you going for longer.
Myth # 4: Carbs must be mixed with vegetarian protein sources to make it a complete protein = TRUE
While this is true it is a myth that you have to eat the two together, at the same time of day. To get a complete protein you can eat one part in the morning and the other later on in the day; for example, you can have your oats for breakfast and then a bean salad for lunch. Your body still gets a complete protein!
On the other hand, it is often more convenient to just have them together so that you don’t forget. Some examples of vegetarian complete-protein sources are: rice with a tofu stir-fry, wholemeal bread sandwich with a lentil patty, and whole wheat pasta with a chickpea sauce.