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Why carbs are actually good for you


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New year, new me, is what many people think.

Along with that common thought comes diets, exercise plans and newly created gym routines to help get our bodies in shape, and while quite a few don't make it past the end of January because life kind of gets in the way and cake proves irresistible, most do.

A typical assumption is that carbs are bad for you and are better avoided if you’re trying to lose weight, as they can help cause weight gain and health problems, but what if carbs are actually good for you? And what if cutting them out of your diet altogether isn’t the healthiest option? We’ve done a little investigating to determine just how good and bad carbs are and what the best foods for healthy and responsible diets are.

What are carbs?

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According to the NHS website: "Carbohydrates are one of 3 macronutrients (nutrients that form a large part of our diet) found in food – the others being fat and protein.

"There are 3 different types of carbohydrates found in food: sugar, starch and fibre."

What some people perhaps are not aware of is that carbs are an essential part of any diet. This is because they contain and produce a big amount of energy for the body. Typical carbs such as pasta and bread are usually not advised in strict dieting, however, in cutting these foods out you’re actually cutting out huge energy sources for your body that could potentially help you.

There are some types of carbs that are not the healthiest options, such as cake, cookies and sweets, but these have sugar added to them, whereas wholemeal pasta and bread, as well as fruit and veg, is a much healthier alternative for meal planning, especially as they are filling and contain a good amount of fibre.

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What do the experts say?

I asked Keith McNiven, founder of London based personal training company Right Path Fitness, and he said: "With January comes the New Year, new me phenomenon and people are always looking for quick fixes. Cutting carbohydrates is often seen as a short-cut to weight loss and increased fitness. I think the opposite.

"If you want to lose weight sustainably and fuel your workouts, you need carbs because they’re your body’s main source of energy. Without carbs, you won’t be able to train effectively and get the results you want in the gym.

"Any fitness aim is based upon a combination of both diet and exercise, and a healthy diet means carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, fibre and water."

The idea of cutting carbs to lose weight quickly is not true, as Shamir Patel, a pharmacist at Chemist 4 U explains: "Although many people buy into the idea that carbs are fundamentally bad for you, the truth is that carbohydrates are an extremely important part of our diet.

"Carbs are responsible for most of the energy in our bodies and considering every little thing you do relies on this energy, the importance of getting a healthy balance of carbs in your diet cannot be overstated."
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Are there health risks with cutting carbs, and what's the alternative?

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and healthy carbs found in fruit and vegetables help to lose weight and create a healthier lifestyle more than being cut out altogether. Keith McNiven adds: “When it comes to the type of carbohydrate to choose, wholegrain has greater nutritional value and also packs in essential fibre.

“Think carbs like whole-grain bread, wraps, rice and pasta.”

There are health risks by cutting out carbs, as the NHS states: “Significantly reducing carbohydrates from your diet in the long term could put you at increased risk of insufficient intakes of certain nutrients, potentially leading to health problems.

“When you're low on glucose, the body breaks down stored fat to convert it into energy. This process causes a build-up of ketones in the blood, resulting in ketosis.

“Ketosis as a result of a low-carbohydrate diet can be linked, at least in the short term, to headaches, weakness, nausea, dehydration, dizziness and irritability.”

So, while limiting the amount of sugary food and drinks you consume is ok, you have to find healthier sources of carbohydrates in your diet, such as lower fat dairy products, wholegrain food and fruit and vegetables. Cutting out carbs altogether is not the quickest way to lose weight, as some people think, it leads to health complications and a lack of energy in the body.

Healthy carb sources are the way to go for advised dieting, as these are actually good for your body. You can access Keith's website here:

Find this article interesting? Check out the investigation about sugar here.

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