These days it’s all too common to hear people say they’re “cutting carbs” or going on a low-carb diet. Although such diets have certainly gained traction, we seem to have forgotten that no one nutrient – be that fat, carbs or protein – can elevate our health to new height, or is the reason for society’s growing waistline.
We only need to look back to the 80’s where we unfairly demonised fat (which sparked the rise of the low-fat era) to realise - are we now just doing the same with carbs?
Nutrition fads will always come and go, and while I’m all for cutting back on added sugars and highly processed carbs, there is no need to avoid carbs like the plague. After, all they are an important part of a healthy diet and the preferred source of fuel for your body.
So while the contenders for “which diet is best” continue to battle it out in the nutrition arena, lets take a look at 5 simple ways we can include carbs in our diet for optimal health.
Smart Swaps – Low GI
To keep your energy systems firing all day, opt for minimally processed carbs that are also low GI (slow release). Top choices include wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes (beans and lentils), wholegrains (oats, barley, quinoa and long grain rice), fruit, dairy and starchy vegetables such as sweet potato, corn and low GI potatoes.
Be Careful of Portion Distortion
While we all have varying carbohydrates needs based on our activity level, age and gender, it can be all too easy to over do the carbs in any given meal. To help keep your portions on track, design your meals around the Plate Model – that being ¼ from carb-rich foods, ¼ protein-rich foods and ½ from colourful plant foods.
Space Them Out
During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down to blood glucose to supply the body with energy. As such, if we skimp on carbs at one meal, and then gorge on them at another, our blood glucose levels will go through big peaks and troughs, which can wreak havoc on our energy levels and vitality.
Team Carbs with Protein
Protein rich foods are incredibly filling. You only need to compare how easy it is to overeat fluffy white bread with a hefty steak to see what I mean. To stay fuller for longer and avoid the temptation to overeat carbs, your best bet is to include a source of protein with each meal. This could be as simple as adding a poached egg to your toast, adding some cold meat to a sandwich or mince meat to a tomato based pasta sauce.
Load Up on Non-Starchy Vegetables
Jam-packed with filling fibre, non-starchy veg (all expect potato and corn) are the perfect low-energy choice to bulk out meals. Fill at least half of your plate with these vibrant beauties and not only will you give your body a fantastic boost in nutrients, but you’ll also crowd out more energy dense foods such as rice, potato and pasta.
Jenelle Croatto APD
IMAGE CREDIT: www.eatthis.com