Carbohydrates-the run down
Carbohydrates, your bodies main source of energy; fuelling your brain, heart, muscles, kidneys and central nervous system. Included in one of the three macronutrients (along with proteins and fats), dietary carbohydrates can be broken down into three categories: sugars, starches and fibre. These carbs can be broken down, transformed into glucose which is used as energy, and stored as fat for later use.
So, what is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ carb? Why should we be consuming more ‘whole’ carbs rather than ‘refined’, what’s the difference? And, is a low carb or high carb diet ‘better’?
First of all, what is a ‘whole’ or ‘refined’ carb. These can also be explained as ‘simple’ vs ‘complex’ carbs, whole vs refined carbs refer to difference types of carbohydrate-containing foods which can vary greatly in their health effects. ‘Whole’ or ‘simple’ carbs are unprocessed, usually contain high amounts of fibre found naturally in food e.g. vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains etc. While ‘refined’ or ‘complex’ carbs have been processed, where the natural fibre is taken out of the food e.g. sugar-sweetened drinks, white bread, pastries, cakes. The bottom line between ‘whole’ vs ‘refined’ carbohydrates is that refined carbs have been associated with obesity and metabolic diseases while whole carbs are unprocessed, and known to be ‘simple’ for the body to breakdown and therefore, healthier.
Let’s get one thing straight before we talk consumption of carbs-diet related. Carbohydrates are NOT the cause of obesity-excessive overconsumption of refined carbs and added sugars are linked to causation of obesity, not ‘simple’ or ‘whole’ carbs, rich in nutrients such as fibre. While this is an evidence based observation, there are also studies that have shown low-carbohydrate diets are successful in reducing fat percentage/weight loss and increase metabolic health. These studies have been shown to be more effective on a previously obese person, but can also apply to clear majority of people. Although, sometimes the low-carb diet can have a negative impact resulting in loss of muscle mass, rather than fat.
When choosing which carbohydrates to consume, a general rule to apply is if it is a ‘single ingredient’ food, then it is more than likely healthy, and is labelled as our ‘whole’ or ‘simple’ carbohydrate. Optimal carbohydrate intake will vary from person to person, and is dependent on factors like age, gender, metabolic health, activity level, food culture, preference etc. Naturally leaner, more active people will generally function better on a higher-carb diet, while overweight/obese people will usually be carbohydrate sensitive-and should consider limiting their intake.
The meals GMD creates have a HUGE range of carbs to choose from. This is ideal as we can have variety in our diet, whilst still consuming single-ingredient carbohydrates. These carbs included in gym meals are listed below:
- Sweet potato
- Brown/white/saffron rice
- Rice/soba noodles
- Wholegrain pasta/fettuccine
- Cauliflower rice
And you know the best part? A large portion of GMD meals give you the OPTION to choose which carbohydrate you would like to have with your meal. For example, you can have your Butter Chicken meal with EITHER: Vegetables, Sweet potato OR rice. YOU CHOOSE!!