In the early noughties we were all subject to a new diet craze. Who can forget the change the Atkins diet promised us – simply cut out all carbohydrates and we could eat whatever we wanted and still lose weight. Was this a good idea? Surely we need some carbs in our life? Is ketosis all its made out to be?

We thought it was about time to sort out some of the truths behind carbohydrate from some of the fiction. So, let’s go…

Carbohydrates: The Good Stuff

Carbohydrates are the fuel for our nervous system and can be used as a quick energy source by the body. Surprisingly, carbs are an influence on mood, memory and play a vital role in ensuring that your brain functions correctly.

Types of Carbohydrate

There are two types of basic carbohydrates that are great for gaining energy quickly. Simple carbs are single sugars usually known as monosaccharides and disaccharides, which can be found in milk, fruit and some vegetables. Even though soda pop and sweet sugars contain simple carbs these are usually refined sugars that can lead to weight gain.

More complex carbohydrates are referred to as polysaccharides and contain three or more sugars. Find these in starchy foods such as peanuts, bananas, parsnips and whole grain breads. These foods are harder for the body to breakdown so provide a much more slower and steady flow of energy, which is much better for sustained energy.

Dangers of No Carbohydrates

As we mentioned at the start of this article many people now favour carb free diets, which are often referred to as keto diets as the lack of carbs can throw the body into a process known as ketosis. Even though it’s easier to achieve weight loss in this state it can come with a price to pay to your health:

  • Keto sickness – many people report a kind of sickness, lethargy and failure to get up and go when they cut carbs completely from their diet.
  • Loose stools – keto diets are often accompanied by an increase in fatty food. If your gall bladder is overworked it might just dump this fat into your stools leading to malabsorption and diarrhoea
  • Weight gain – when you’re on a keto diet it’s not how you would normally eat and therefore not a real lifestyle change, but rather a weight loss tactic. This means it’s incredibly difficult to actually implement a new diet plan that leads to lasting change.
  • Increased risk of heart disease– again, because of the increased levels of fat in the keto diet its highly likely that this will increase levels of cholesterol, constricting blood flow into the heart – leading to problems and a higher chance of heart attacks and problems.

How to Eat Carbohydrates and Still Lose Weight

Sugar isn’t the greatest and should be always used incredibly sparingly in all aspects of your diet, but do not think for a moment this should be reason for you to give up all carbs. Remember that a good rule of thumb is to make meals that are 50% vegetables, 25% carbs and 25% protein.

Go for those complex carbs we mentioned. Couscous is great, quinoa helps you find lovely alternatives and many people now prefer roasted sweet potatoes to their white, starchy cousins. Get a dose of vitamins and with peas and sweetcorn, giving you some of the healthiest options available. With a little thought and meal planning it’s easy to eat the right carbs.

Getting a Good Diet and Exercise

Worried about the levels of carbohydrate in your diet? Want to make a change and start moving towards a healthier lifestyle? EMS Fitness can help. Together we can work on a realistic diet plan and give you an exercise plan to complement your objectives. Give us a call and find out how our personalised service could finally help you make a meaningful, lasting change in your fitness.