Myth #1: All Carbs Are Bad Just as not all fats and proteins are equal, the same can be said for carbohydrates. First, we need to understand what carbs do for our body. Carbs are one of the three macronutrients that should be a part of every meal. When we eat them, our digestive system and enzymes break them down into glucose, or sugar, which we use for quick energy. Therefore, when we are tired, stressed or hungry, we crave certain carbs because our brain knows that these will give us the lift we need. The potential problem is that a sugar crash always follows the high, and the roller coaster of blood sugar ups and downs all day can lead to many health problems, poor sleep, mood swings and lowered immunity.
MUST HAVE: Choose the complex carbohydrates over the simple ones that you find in sweets, refined grains and fruit juice. The former contain fibre that break down more slowly, preventing that dangerous roller coaster. Fibre is what we need for satiety and a healthy microbiome, as it feeds our healthy gut bacteria. Find it in vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Myth #2: Carbs Make You Gain Weight Since not all carbs are equal, we cannot say that all carbs affect weight. When carbohydrates are broken down by our body for fuel, the sugar is taken up by our cells, with the help of a hormone called insulin. The energy is burned as we go about our day, and whatever is left is stored for later use…as fat. When we do not have carbohydrates to burn for energy, our body taps into our fat reserves, which is our next energy source. If your diet is made up of more simple carbohydrates that promote a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows, your insulin receptors can become overworked and resistant over time. This can lead to weight gain, especially if you are more sedentary.
MUST HAVE: Choose the carbohydrates that stabilize blood sugar. These should be a part of each of your meals, along with protein and healthy fat. Non-starchy veggies, leafy greens and foods with a low glycemic load are good choices.
Myth #3: Low Carb Diets Are the Healthiest When we eliminate carbs from the diet long term, we also eliminate the fibre, vitamins and minerals. Remember, fruit and vegetables are carbs too! It’s not about eating low carb, it’s about eating the right carbs. Those who eat a low carb diet for weight loss are tapping into their fat reserves for energy, also known as ketosis. The problem is that this way of eating is not sustainable, especially for women. As soon as you incorporate carbohydrates back in as part of a balanced meal, your body holds on to the glucose and stores it as fat.
MUST HAVE: Instead of starving the body of this important macronutrient (macro refers to a large amount), consistently include it as part of every meal so your body learns how to break it down efficiently and consistently. Don’t be afraid of complex carbs like apples, squash or whole grain rye bread. When they are paired with their other macronutrient counterparts, they provide us with the perfect source of energy that we need to thrive.
Try these balanced meal ideas that include healthy carb choices
Spiralized zucchini noodles with a veggie tomato sauce and ground turkey meatballs in place of refined flour spaghetti with sweet marinara sauce and garlic toast
Smashed chickpea and avocado sandwich on 100% rye in place of deli meat with cranberry jelly on white bread
Cauliflower rice, garlic Brussels sprouts and salmon in place of white rice, potatoes and breaded fish sticks