Why Carbs Are Important for Your Diet

A healthy body needs all three macro-nutrients; protein, carbohydrates and fats. Carbs and fats have got a bad rap recently. If the media and magazines haven’t been demonising one, it’s been the other. Thing is, you need both carbs and fats to diet effectively, lose fat quickly, and protect your energy levels and your health. 

In this article I would like to focus on carbs and why you should include this macro-nutrient in your diet. I will explain the difference between bad and good carbs and will give you a few tips on how you can include carbohydrates in your meals.

Carbs are your body’s main source of energy, and you can find these vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, dairy products, pasta and breads. When you eat carbs, your body uses them to create glucose, a type of sugar which gives you the energy. 

While you don’t want to go overboard with your carbohydrate intake, there’s no need to go super low either. Doing so can actually massively increase cravings and have you feeling tired, lethargic and irritable, so keep those carbs in.

Types of carbohydrates

There are 3 types of carbs:
  • Sugar is a simple form of carb and it appears naturally in some foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Types of sugar include fruit sugar (fructose), table sugar (sucrose) and milk sugar (lactose).
  • Starch is a complex carb, it is made of many sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.
  • Fibre, also a complex carbohydrate, it appears naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cooked dry beans and peas.

The difference between good and bad carbs

Whether you call them good or bad, simple or complex or whole vs refined, you need to know a few facts behind these 2 types of carbohydrates before you introduce them in your diet.
The whole carbs are those that haven’t been processed and include a natural fibre. On the other hand, the complex ones, are those that have been processed and the natural fibre has been stripped off.

You might have guessed already that the whole carbs are the good ones. You can find these in legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Bad carbs, or complex carbs, include fruit juices, white bread, rice and pasta, sweetened beverages, pastries.

Wonder why complex carbs are bad for you? It’s because they will create major spikes in your blood sugar levels, which will then cause hunger and cravings for more complex carbs. Moreover, bad carbs lack in nutrients and they are linked to different chronic diseases.

On the other hand, whole carbs are full of fibres and will improve your metabolic health and lower the risk of disease.

How many carbs should you eat?

A general recommendation is that your carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. So, if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates a day.

So far I’ve just thrown some numbers at you, which I know makes everything super confusing, but here’s where the magic happens. Plenty of women think that counting calories takes hours every day, or is a massive constraint on their time, but it absolutely isn’t. In fact, it can take as little as 2 minutes per day using an app on your phone.

The most popular app (meaning it’s among the most user-friendly and has the biggest database) is My Fitness Pal, so it would make sense for you to use that, though if you’ve experimented with others and preferred those, that’s fine too. Now, whenever you eat something, you need to put it into My Fitness Pal.

One thing you need to understand is that you shouldn’t stress to much to be perfectly accurate with these numbers. As long as you are around those numbers. You should be fine.

Choose the right carbs for your diet

For a balanced, full of fibres and nutrients diet I recommend including the following carbs in your day to day meals:

  • Vegetables: All of them. It is best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
  • Whole fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.
  • Legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Whole grains: Choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.
  • Tubers: Potatoes and sweet potatoes

As a general rule you need to go for the whole fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains that do not include added sugar.
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