Love them or loath them - carbohydrates rule our diets
Monday, 03 October, 2011Oh boy I do not want to open the proverbial can of worms. But since I started the topic I might as well go through with it. Okay, now 'carbs' as they are affectionately known are every dieter's nightmare, which needn't be.
You see like any middle child, carbohydrates are often overlooked so says one professor of nutrition from Harvard University in the United States of America (US). Indeed fats get the most attention and fruits and vegetables the praise. Any wonder?
You see whether you like it or not, carbohydrates are the base that you need in every diet. They take or rather should take the lion's share of every plate. Okay wait, I am NOT saying that you should have a Kilimanjaro of it at any given time but make sure you have about at least a third of your plate being the good old complex unrefined wholesome starches. Carbohydrates contribute more toward weight maintenance or weight gain than any other nutrient. Hmm!
The type of carbohydrates in your diet is equally important as the fats or sugars for that matter. But wait, do you want to really know why carbs matter? I thought as much. Well the bottom line is this: every morsel of carb that you gobble ends up as a sugar molecule and if not well-managed, that can spell excess weight, obesity, diabetes, eventually heart diseases, etc. So love them or loath them you have to just live with the carbs, plain and simple.
So let's get on with it folks the message remains, carbohydrates are good and good for you.
Carbohydrates are the main fuel of the body, and they are responsible for ensuring that all other foods are properly metabolised and utilised by the body. Hence the love-hate relationship we have with these not-so-evil categories of foods.
A short lecture on these: There are two forms of carbs. The 'fast releasing' ones as in the refined types such as sugars, honey, sweets, malt, and others that you find in most processed foods, for example, ice cream or cakes.
And then there is the 'slow releasing' kind, these include whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit. The latter are foods that contain more of the complex carbohydrates that I talked about earlier. The even more healthful part is that they contain a fair share of the fibre, which is so essential for our digestive system.
Think about this for a second, fast releasing carbohydrate as in sweets give you a quick high and sudden burst of energy and before you know that magic energy has burnt off so fast you are left feeling like a person who had a drug high and is badly in need of another quick fix. On the other hand the good complex carbs, e.g. eating an apple, give you a slow release sustained energy that I normally look at as a slow burning candle that will carry you through the dark nights. And romantic too; if not only for your figure but also for some moments of mental acuity.
Before I forget, please note, slow releasing carbs such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, and whole grains should make up two thirds of what you eat and about 60 or so percent of what you eat in total. Sounds like a lot? Well you decide if you want to look like a butter ball with all manner of non-communicable diseases and die prematurely or you want to be the next winner of Survivor. Please whatever you do, think twice about the fad and fly-by-night diets that tell you that all carbs are bad and implore you to eat only protein like there is no tomorrow.
Ouch your kidneys will suffer the most and premature debilitation is sure around the corner. Me, I'm a confirmed 'carby' all the way. Gosh, do I pack up on those wholesome grains, fruits and veggies. And guess what? I haven't morphed into a rabbit yet or ever will for that matter. The best part is, I always feel energised and can easily do a five-hour aerobics marathon without much of a sweat - no kidding!
Hey did you know that the Chinese diet is more carbs than anything, and yet they are not fat, or sick as others that shall remain nameless. Go figure. So now we know carbs are good, at least benign compared to fats. But as with everything, moderation and common sense should prevail. Adeus!