Updated: Jun 7
It’s 2019 and people are still carb shaming. Seeing carbs as the devil stemmed from the Atkins diet which has been around for decades and focused purely on cutting carbs from each meal in the belief it was a fast track for weight loss.. People who followed the Atkins diet only saw results quite quickly because they cut out an entire food group and therefore created a calorie deficit. However, this led to the idea that cutting carbs had a magical effect on the body and began the misconception that carbs make you fat.
This kind of thinking is quite simply wrong carbohydrates are needed for a well balanced diet and fuel for the body and brain. However, refined carbohydrates have little nutritional value and there is no harm in cutting down on these. These include white bread, white rice, white pasta, fried chips, crisps, biscuits, cakes and other processed foods. Although in moderation, these food sources are fine and they are also good for the soul, they are just a fast release of glucose and energy with little other benefits to our health.
Complex carbohydrates are the good stuff, and include sources like quinoa, brown rice, brown bread, brown pasta, potatoes, oats and even vegetables (yes broccoli is a carb!). These sources are a good source of energy and fibre which help to maintain a healthy digestive system and keep blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day. So, if you are cutting out these healthy carbohydrates sources then you are also cutting out a lot of fibre from your diet. The recommended amount of fibre each day is 30g but on average, we are only getting around 15-18g per day. This can have a huge effect on our digestive system and gut health because fibre is essentially the food for our gut microbiome (the good bacteria living in our guts). If we have poor gut health then many other functions are impacted because our gut is our second brain and the seat of our health. It can influence our immune system, skin, weight and even our mental health (our happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in the gut).
Complex carbohydrates also play an important role in transporting tryptophan to the brain which creates serotonin and hence why, if you are following a low carb or no carb diet then you often feel moody, lethargic and have difficulty concentrating. Complex carbs help satiety, meaning you feel more satisfied and may not want to snack in between meal times.