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

 

 

Do I gain weight eating healthy food?

Yes; my ex-personal trainer used to say, “Losing weight is a question of math! Energy in minus energy out must leave you with a deficit.”

My friends and colleagues say it’s easy for me, because I eat healthy.  True; I do eat healthy.  But, it does not mean I do not gain weight when I relax my portion control.

Portion distortion

When you compare today’s food plate to that of 20 years ago, you will understand the term “portion distortion” in a flash.  Today’s plates are bigger and we tend to fill them up.  The end result is – over-eating.

Avoid portion distortion

Calorie intake depends on lifestyle.  For example, my problem today is, I still eat the same amount of food like I did when I went to gym six days a week.  Not good!

The Palm Rule

Food portions are smaller than we think. A portion of lean protein for a guy is approximately twice the size of his palm; for a woman it’s half that amount.

Fruit is another healthy food to watch out for.  It contains a high level of natural sugars which hinder weight loss if consumed in large amounts.  If your goal is to lose weight, try and stick to having 2 – 3 portions of fruit a day.

hw_handportionchart_1222

Socialising

Eating out can get tricky when you are watching what you eat.  Vegetables are a healthy choice, but not when they’re covered in butter.  At home, I do not hesitate to have a baked potato or wedges, but when I eat out I avoid baked potatoes. They’re loaded with fat; sometimes worse than fries.

So for those of you who think healthy eaters are lucky … think again!  Too much healthy food can still make you gain weight.  Experience taught me it’s best to be a mindful eater.

The benefits of training yourself to eat sensibly carries a life-time guarantee.