“Carbs are unhealthy for you”, “carbs make you put on weight”, “carbs should be avoided for dinners”, “carbs make you feel sluggish”.
CARBS, CARBS, CARBS! Do you fear this word too? What if I told you that carbs need not be your foes? In the course of this post, I will weave in the friendly nature of carbs and why you can eat them without fearing weight gain.
Carbohydrates are extremely important in one’s daily diet. Our bodies are designed in a way that carbs are the go-to energy source. Each gram of carbohydrate gives 4 kcals of energy.
Not all carbs are bad. Carbs are of 2 types. Simple and complex.
Simple carbs are foods like white sugar, honey, fruits and fruit juice which raise your blood glucose levels quickly. This is a villain for diabetes and people looking to lose weight. Complex carbs on the other hand are those foods that raise your blood glucose levels steadily and these include whole grains, pulses and legumes and vegetables.
Does that mean fruits should be avoided? Here comes the wingman; fibre!
Fruits are rich in fibre which regulates blood sugar levels by the slowing the release of glucose into the body. Go ahead, have fruit every day!
Why should you eat carbs in your diet? The main function of carbohydrates is to provide energy to the body. Each gram of carbohydrate gives 4 kilocalories of energy. When your body is in need of energy, your body first taps the carbs. When you completely cut-off carbs from your diet, your body knocks on the doors of protein stores and muscle mass for energy. That is not good for your body. Protein is extremely important for muscle mass, growth and development of the body. When it is required to become a primary source of energy, it fails to perform essential functions of its own.
Now, you may ask, what sort of carbs are good for you? What should you eat and what shouldn’t you?
- Whole grains like whole wheat, millets, oats, quinoa are good. In conclusion, stay away from refined cereals like maida but you could include white rice as a primary source of carbohydrates.
- Vegetables in any form; raw or cooked (with less oil); always a thumbs up!
- Whole fruits are a yes, yes, yes. Fruit juices are a no, no, no.
- Refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup and other such sugars are best kept at bay. (Keep an eye on food labels especially for this one!)
Eating the right food is not the only mantra for good health. Eating the right foods in right amounts will show you results. Now that you know what you should eat, let me tell you how much you should eat.
When it comes to carbs, fill one quarter of your plate with whole grains. Don’t go overboard just because I told you that carbs are good for you. Fill another quarter with vegetables like subzi or salad. Include a variety of vegetables like carrots, beans, greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, ladies finger, radish and anything else you love munching.
Are you wondering if I forgot to mention our soul veggie; potato? Here’s the deal with potatoes. Potato is vegetable but at the same it is not considered to be one because the amount of carbs it has is equal to that of cereals! While you can include potato occasionally, you must balance out the amounts of other carbs that you have on your plate.
Have one fruit every day. Make your weekly fruit segment colourful. Have anything from apples, bananas, guavas, oranges, watermelons, pears, pineapples, berries and any other seasonal fruit that you please. Have it as a snack and not along with your meals like lunch and dinner.
Depriving your body from carbs is like expecting a car to run without fuel. Your body needs a certain amount of carbs for fuel to function well, execute daily activities and chores. Carbs can be friends even with people looking to manage weight. The easiest way to include carbs is to remember our mantra; Right foods, Right portions.