Carbs and weight gain: myth or fact?

You want to lose weight. Should you stop eating carbs, even if for a short time? How fast can you lose weight if you cut out on your carbs?

What are carbohydrates (carbs in short)?

The term carbohydrates is given to a food group which provides the body with energy. Carbs provide energy for the brain and the central nervous system to function. The brain in particular, needs a constant supply of glucose for it to function properly.

There are two types of carbohydrates – simple carbs and complex.

Simple carbohydrates, or sugary carbs, as they are more commonly known, are found in fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products.  They are also found in manufactured food stuffs such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and processed foods.

Starchy carbs on the other hand are more complex.   The reason why they’re referred to as ‘complex’ is because this type of carbohydrate can be sub-divided into various components such as resistant or digestible starch and soluble or insoluble fibre.

Starchy carbs can be found in foods such as bread, pasta, rice, cereals, potatoes, rye and barley.

starchy-carbs
Starchy Carbs

Are carbohydrates making you gain weight?

One gram of carbohydrate has less than half the amount of calories found in fat. There are 4 kcals in one gram of carbs as opposed to 9 kcals in one gram of fat.

Carbohydrates do not contribute to your weight gain if

  • they are consumed in the right amount, as part of a calorie-controlled diet and
  • you do not add too much fat to them.

Cooked in the right way, served in proper-sized portions and with low-fat ingredients added, carbs can be a low calorie food.

Will you lose weight if you cut out carbs?

You will lose weight if you cut out any food group from your diet.  However, knowing how important carbs are for your body, would you be ready to cut out them out long term or for good?  You may be able to cut out carbs for a few months, but it will not be sustainable in the long run.

If you cut out carbs completely from your diet, you notice you will find it difficult to concentrate.  Your brain gets ‘foggy’. You will also slow down your metabolism and when you re-introduce carbs to your diet, your slow metabolism will not cope and you end up gaining weight.

You want a long term solution to your weight management. Cutting out food groups, such as carbs, certainly does not help you achieve your goals.

Instead of eliminating carbs, go for wholegrain varieties  which keep you full for longer. Wholegrain carbs also provide you with fibre, B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate, which are all very essential vitamins and minerals.

For further reading on the benefits of including starchy carbs in your diet go to Nutrition.org.uk

 

 

Breakfast like a king …

Do you eat breakfast?  In the UK, one in five adults miss out on breakfast (not to mention children).  Reasons given for skipping breakfast vary from – not enough time; to cut down on calories or I’m not hungry first thing in the morning.

How important is breakfast?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  As you sleep your sugar levels start to fall and by the time you wake up they’re pretty low.  In order for your body to function properly, you need to fuel up on foods which are low in “free” sugar.

Research shows that breakfast not only gives you the energy you need to start the day, it also

  • helps you control your weight
  • improves concentration levels
  • helps lower cholesterol levels.

 

What makes a good breakfast?

You can choose from a number of foods to start your day in a healthy way. My all-time favourite is good old porridge; but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Some suggested options are:

  • ready-made cereals (low in sugar and sodium);
  • home-made muesli
  • one slice of wholegrain toast spread with avocado and 20g of crumbled Feta cheese
  • baked beans on wholegrain toast
  • one poached egg with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes
  • plain Greek yogurt served with a few fresh berries
  • a bowl of fresh fruit salad.

Avoid jams, marmalade, chocolate spreads or butter. An overdose of too much “free” sugar puts your body under stress.  When your sugar levels are on a roller-coaster ride, you feel crappy all day.  You are also more likely to reach out for the biscuit tin at eleven and eat even more sugary carbohydrates as the day goes on.

If you decide to go for an English breakfast, grill your bacon and sausages; avoid fried food.

Breakfast on the go

Unless you go for the full Monty every day, breakfast shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes.  Make the effort, wake up 10 minutes earlier and eat a decent breakfast before you leave the house.

With a little bit of planning, you can prepare some oat breakfasts from the night before.

Here are some ideas I came across

Maple Pecan Overnight Oats – by Pamela

maple-pecan-oats

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Bowls by Kath

strawberry_oatmeal_breakfast_bowls_hero

Mocha Overnight Oats by Davida

mocha-coffee

These recipes are so quick and easy to make.  You can get them ready the night before, or prepare ahead for a few days.  If you are running late, grab a jar on your way out and eat it  on the hoof [don’t forget your teaspoon :-)].

I hope you like these few ideas I shared with you today.  Here are some more overnight oat recipes, brought to you courtesy of Honest Cooking.

If you have any quick breakfast recipes you’d like to share, please drop me a line and I’d be happy to post them on my blog.

Until next time… it’s goodbye.

My thanks go to

WebMD
The British Heart Foundation
Kath Eates Real Food
My Man’s Belly
The Healthy Maven