How to Go 'Low Carb' the Healthy Way
Do you love carbs? Most people do and carbohydrates are in so many foods that they are hard to avoid, but should we be avoiding them in the first place?
Short answer is no. We do actually need some carbs. Carbs are used by the body as fuel, for brain function and to preserve muscles, the problem lies with the amount of carbs we tend to eat.
You can find carbs in fruit, juice, starchy vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, peas), milk, yoghurt, bread, crackers, pasta, rice, quinoa, sugary drinks, coffees, sweets, and the list goes on. So, it is not a struggle to get carbohydrates into the diet.
Carbohydrates aren’t necessarily bad, and we need some each day, but we don’t need as much as most of us eat. Some like to reduce carbohydrates to try and lose weight and this can be effective if done properly. If trying to go lower carbs, here are some a few things to consider:
- Reduce the carb intake, not remove it – aim for some carb free meals/snacks in your day. A carb free meal could be grilled chicken and salad or poached eggs and avocado. A carb free snack could be vegetables sticks, cherry tomatoes or 1 boiled egg.
- Keep portion sizes small when having carbs - aim for ½ - 1 cup portions of cooked pasta/rice/noodles or 1 medium potato, 1-2 slices bread. Keep track of the measurements throughout the day.
- Choose healthier carbs - You may have heard of the glycaemic index or GI. This is a ranking system that ranks foods in terms of containing low GI or high GI carbs. Low GI carbs are broken into sugars slowly so provide sustained energy over a longer time period whereas high GI carbs are broken down quickly providing a quick release of sugar into the bloodstream, which is used or stored quickly and aren’t as sustaining. So best carbs to eat are low GI ones e.g. very grainy or high fibre breads, wraps, crackers, low fat dairy, legumes etc. For more information on the GI, visit: https://www.glycemicindex.com/
- High fibre carbs are another healthier type of carb. We need fibre for bowel and digestive health, blood sugar balance, keeping cholesterol down etc. Having lots of fibre in a carb food also lowers the GI making it harder to break into sugars. So always aim for carbs with lots of fibre e.g. very grainy or high fibre breads, wraps, crackers, low fat dairy, legumes, higher fibre fruits e.g. pear, apple, oranges etc.
So if choosing to go ‘low carb’, try and apply the above principles. Avoid going ‘no carb’ rather make better carb choices and have a few carb free meals or snacks in your day.