Carbs often get a bad rap for causing us to gain weight. The issue is, that it is often the timing and how they are prepared that causes the problem, and not the carbs themselves. While eating excessive carbs will definitely cause some problems with weight loss, there are also positives around carb intake! For starters, carbs are great for our gut health! They are also vital in muscle development, as they contain the nutrients that our bodies need to rebuild muscles after a hard workout!
When it comes to what we eat, we should always aim to consume a balanced, varied diet. The right carbohydrate based foods contain essential nutrients and dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy digestive system and for the microbes that live there. The bacteria that live in our gut have a huge impact on many areas of our health, including aiding in digestion, supporting our immune system and even having an effect on our mental health.
By maintaining a balanced diet that is rich in fibre, we help good gut bugs to thrive and ferment the fibre, creating short-chain fatty acids that aid in regulating our immune system, digestion, metabolism and skin health.
Back to the weight management part of carb intake, the best advice can be summed up as this; eat them when your body needs them. What this means is to have them at the time of day where you actually need to have that extra energy. This is at the start of the day, or directly before or after doing something physical. This is when your body will consume the calories associated with the carbs, while still being able to utilise the benefits of them.
When considering the types of carbs to eat, for the best result in regards to weight maintenance, aiming for wholegrains is going to be better. Wholegrains are an excellent source of carbohydrate as they also contain many naturally occurring essential nutrients and vitamins including fibre. Whole grain based carbs are higher in fibre and have a lower glycemic index (GI), which means they break down slower and give your body energy for longer.
What you want to try to avoid is eating high GI index carbs, as they are more often your processed foods, or “unhealthy” foods. These will give you a quick release of sugar into your system, and will result in more unused energy. This unused energy is then converted into fat by the body. The one time when these are more helpful though is directly before you are about to something very physical. During this time, your body needs that extra energy, and will utilise much more of it.
Ultimately, eating a balanced amount of all types of nutrients is what will give the best result overall!