While protein often gets the spotlight amongst athletes and regular gym goers, carbs get a bad rap – being a feared food in many alternate diets e.g. Atkins, Keto, etc.
But are they good or bad? And is it possible that you’re not getting enough carbohydrates in your diet?
The Better Health Channel describes carbohydrates as an essential part of a well-balanced diet and healthy body. Discover why you need carbohydrates in your diet and the signs you’re not consuming enough.
Why Do We Need Carbs in Our Diets?
Carbs play a key role in fueling vital organs, such as the brain, central nervous system and kidneys. Low-carb diets can be helpful for short-term weight loss, but getting enough carbs is crucial for fueling our body for digestion, metabolism and energy, so be careful of cutting your supply too low.
Diets overly high in protein and low in carbs can be detrimental to your long-term health. And before you reach for that pizza, it’s important to know that not all carbs are created equally. Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, barley or brown rice provide our bodies with fibre and starch.
Simple carbs, on the other hand, include sugars found in foods such as dairy, honey and fruit. Carbohydrates control blood glucose, which is key in weight management.
Go for wholefoods and high-quality carbohydrates to get the energy you need, while maintaining a healthy weight.
Signs You’re Not Eating Enough Carbohydrates
In the short-term, low carb diets can help you lose weight, as it restricts your energy (kilojoules), but they can negatively impact your health in the long run. Some telltale symptoms you might not be getting enough carbs include:
- Feeling bloated
- Struggling to concentrate at work
- Irregular digestion
Learn to be more in touch with your health and make smarter eating decisions by watching out for these signs our bodies give us every day.
Long-Term Effects of a Low Carb Diet
Initial weight loss from a low carb diet is mostly water, not body fat. Since your body isn’t getting carbs from food, it needs to pull from glycogen, and to eat 1g of glycogen, 3g of water is needed. This is why a lot of the initial weight loss is considered 'water weight'.
In the long-term, low carb diets can end up causing a range of health problems, such as:
- Weight gain
- Dieting problems (i.e. a cycle of gaining and losing weight)
- Bowel problems
- High cholesterol
- Kidney problems
Unsure if your nutrition plan is working? Learn the signs to lookout for.
Ways to Incorporate More Carbs Into Your Diet
For a healthy diet that’s rich in carbohydrates, here are some Better Health daily dietary guidelines to get you started:
- 6 serves of grains (for most adults)
- 2 serves of fruit
- 5 serves of vegetables for women and x 6 for men
- 2.5 serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternatives for most adults
- 2-3 serves of meat or meat alternatives
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to get your carbs from unprocessed and unrefined sources (e.g. wholegrains and fruit), rather than refined and processed sources (e.g. cakes and sweets).