It’s not the direct opposite of carbohydrate, but it is so much better for you that it might as well be. Main difference? Low in carbs, not high in carbs. This could seem too much to ask, and you’re probably tempted to stop reading right now – in which case you’ll miss out on some of our tastiest recipes yet. But if 2022 was going to be your year of healthy choices, then you may want to explore this carbohydrate topic a little further. And no, bread is never banished entirely.
Seems like carbs are the nutrient everyone loves to hate. Usually, they are the first to get cut when embarking on a weight reduction rampage but are the last to leave you if they do sneak their way onto your plate. But in actual fact, exiling them completely from your dietary considerations is not the answer.
Primarily, carbohydrates exist to give us fuel for our bodies by turning into either glucose or fat. Glucose is energy that can be burned now, and fat is the body’s way of saving the energy up for a rainy day. So going ‘cold turkey’ on carbs in order to lose a few kilograms can be like cancelling the electricity supply to your house to save a few dollars; a bad idea. Instead, choose the right carbs, in the right quantities, just as you would choose the right electricity plan and the right appliances.
Figuring out just which carbs are the ‘right’ ones isn’t as difficult as you may think. As with most dietary advice, it comes down to choosing natural, unprocessed foods such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables (including potato and kumara), nuts and seeds. Carbs in these foods take longer for your body to process, therefore releasing the energy over a longer period of time. You stay fuller for longer and avoid energy spikes and slumps. ‘Refined’ carbs found in highly processed foods like sugary drinks and white bread are digested quickly because nutrients have been removed, and all the energy is released almost at once. Ever had a 3:00pm sugar high after snacking on a chocolate bar, followed immediately by a 3:30pm energy slump?
If we can go back to the fat-for-a-rainy-day point again – there is an added benefit to cutting back on carbs: as you put less of them into your digestive system, your body automatically draws from its rainy-day reserves. Voil! Reduced body fat. And – dark chocolate is practically carb-free. Well, almost.
Going carbo-low-drate isn’t all bad. It really just comes down to selecting the right electricity plan.