CARBS. One of the most controversial topics in the fitness industry these days. It seems to be becoming a kind of a myth where carbs are evil and are only meant for cheat days. ? And I feel like it is almost vulgar and daring to say that you have potatoes for dinner or that you put maple syrup on your pancakes while it’s completely okay to say that you say peanut butter by spoonfuls and put as much avocado on your salad as you can.
While it is a good source of Instagram jokes and memes it is also creating a myth that ordinary people who are not that into nutrition can be confused about.
So I thought I’ll tell you my humble opinion and try to clarify backing up with my personal experience. Please, feel free not to agree with me and tell me your thoughts on this topic in the comments section. ??
How it all started…
I’m gonna try to make this as brief as possible. But we all know it’s not gonna happen. So bear with me because I feel like this is an important message that needs to be spread out!
As most of you will know, in the 80s there was a craze that spread out the belief that too much fat makes you fat. As a result, the supermarket shelves filled with low-fat yoghurts completely ignoring the fact that they are full of sugar. The food labels highlighted the fat content and caused everybody to go for the low-fat diets. Then, quite recently, this movement had a backlash with the rising popularity of Atkin’s diets followed by Paleo which started to point out that there are sources of fat that are good for you and are actually essential for your body. ???? While also raising the awareness of the fact that the population’s consumption of carbs is way off the charts and a lot of foods are filled with sugar. ???
And all this is great and amazing, I love the fact that people are not scared to eat high-fat foods and can experience their amazing effects on your body.
But I think that this has also caused a slight overreaction ? against carbs. And I want to talk about it and set some facts straight.
Know the difference…
Of course, these diets are successful with the public because they are very clear cut. And that’s what people want to hear, simple guidelines. Cut out bread, rice, and pasta. Don’t eat carbs for dinner. Go gluten free. Even though it is more restrictive, it is actually easier to follow than ‘make sure all your meals are well balanced and concentrate the majority of your carbohydrates around your training’. ?
So you substitute your usual afternoon muffin from a coffee shop with a handful of nuts. You have a salad for dinner instead of a baked potato. You lose weight. You make up your mind that carbs are therefore evil and you decide never to touch them again. And the next time someone offers you a toast with your breakfast you look at him with disgust.? What you don’t realise is that you’re losing weight because you’ve replaced refined sugar and simple carbs with whole foods and also ended up eating less calories!
But it seems to me that we are losing the point here. I think that all this clear cut belief that carbs are evil to have caused some people to be afraid of them.
What you have to realize is that there is a difference between eating 200g of potatoes with your chicken and vegetables for dinner and eating a huge bowl of spaghetti carbonara or a whole pizza. Same as there is a difference between having a Starbucks double chocolate chip muffin and one slice of bread with peanut butter and a few banana coins. So what I’m saying is that while it’s great to reduce sugary treats and reduce your massive carb intake, you don’t have to cut them out!!!!
What actually matters…
I’m sorry you are hearing it again, but when considering fat loss and weight management, there is one golden rule on top of your priorities pyramid and that is … drum roll … caloric deficit!!! Which means you have to consume fewer calories than you burn, which results in weight loss. And to be honest, there’s not much of a difference in terms of what is your carb/fat ratio. Keep your protein high, adjust the rest according to your preference!! ?
And here’s a plot twist. I’m sure you know already but carbs and protein contain 4 calories per 1g while fat contains 9 calories per gram. Which means that you can actually eat more food when it comes from carbs than when it comes from fat. Think 100g of almonds (approx. 560kcal) vs 100g of blueberries (approx. 60kcal). So that might be something that you may want to consider as well. ?
And from my observation, it’s mostly guys that are really good on the higher fat diets because they like the fact that the fat fills them up more easily and keeps them going, which is more convenient for them, while girls, prefer to snack more often or eat smaller but more frequent meals.
When you’re aiming for weight loss, you want to keep all the food you’re eating as nutritious and filling as possible. And that is the reason you would eliminate empty simple carbohydrates because they are full of sugar and don’t fill you up (think chocolate bars and packs of Oreos, not oats or potatoes).
With that being said, if you choose to lower your carb intake, please feel free to do that but I want to hear why. And if your answer is that you don’t know and you actually secretly have food envy when you see someone eating bread or potatoes, I would suggest, think again. ?
Okay, this is another thing that does me a headache. Labelling foods good and bad. I mean, obviously, a croissant is not a good source of carbs but also, white rice is not a bad one!! By buying into this fad diet terminology, you have been persuaded that white potatoes are ‘bad’ while sweet potatoes are ‘good’ while in fact, their benefits and nutrients are very similar, maybe a sweet potato is a bit higher in fibre. What makes it funny is that people suddenly think that having sweet potato fries with your burger is fine, completely ignoring the fact that they are deep fried in oil. ??♀️
Very briefly on why to eat carbs…
They are a great source of energy and your body needs them to function
They are great for after workout muscle recovery and gaining strength
Foods as potatoes, oats and pulses promote satiety while providing a lot of nutrients
They are full of fibre and improve your digestion
They help you sleep! (away with that no carbs after 5pm bullsh!t please) #carbsafterdark ?
They help your brain to function and focus
They make you happy!!!!
My experience and opinion
Just in case you are interested in my personal experience… I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t go through all this as well. I was also at a stage when I was scared of eating rice and I remember feeling guilty about eating oats for breakfast. ??♀️
Long story short, I was on strict paleo for a year, while tracking randomly as well for interest and I would usually eat around 90-100g of carbs per day. These days and probably for the past 6 months, I am eating over 180g of carbs a day. And the truth is, I have never been leaner in my life. To be fair, I just gradually found out that because I have such a huge appetite, eating a high-fat diet, my meals were leaving me dissatisfied and craving carbs or something sweet afterwards anyway, resulting in eating more calories and feeling bloated and sickly full most of the time while depriving myself of the foods I loved!
But I want to stress, this is my preference, I am not saying that in order to get lean, you need to eat 180g of carbs a day. This way I know I feel satisfied with my meals, get to eat all the food I find delicious, and to be honest, I love oats, I love smoothie bowls, I love potatoes, love pulses, love fruits, have a wrap once in a while, have a sandwich at a cafe if I feel like it. But I am not a huge fan of pasta or rice and don’t really crave or need them. BUT I am going to say it again and again, I love meat and vegetables and that is what makes the most of my meals and I’m making sure that they are always balanced. I’m really not saying that I eat toast with jam and banana for breakfast or potatoes with beans for lunch!
But to find your preference, you have to test this on yourself. I’m sorry people but I’m saying it again, trial and error, TRIAL AND ERROR, that’s how you get there.
Finally, we got to the final part and that is, the truth. And truth is that eating too much of anything is bad. I would really suggest to look at your daily intake in a more complex way and just trying to keep it balanced. Believe me, that’s never going to fail. But forcing yourself to cut out food groups or minimising carbs, without even being sure why, is just going to make you miserable. And cranky.
Obviously, feel free to try different approaches to see what works for you better but in my opinion, the best solution for most of the people is trying to balance all the meals so that they contain all the macronutrients, sticking mostly to whole foods and prioritising nutrient density. And then, you can adjust depending on how you feel. Yes, how YOU feel, not what a certain diet tells you to do. And isn’t that the best news ever? ????
That’s all from me today.
Please, please, leave a comment with your opinion or story. I really want to hear it!! 🙂
Making carbs great again ?✌?