If you are to lose weight – and keep it off permanently, you need to know about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are foods that are grown – ie come from the soil – vegetables, fruits, flour, cereals, and rice. There are no carbohydrates in meat, fish or eggs.
Do we need carbohydrates?
We certainly do – eliminating carbs as some fad diets suggest, means you end up eating much more fat and meat. This can lead to constipation and worse – obesity!
Carbohydrates are not always fattening. In Africa, Asia and South America, obesity among the poor is unknown – and they get 80% of their calories from carbs. This is because they can only afford to eat unprocessed (good) carbohydrates. However, if any of these same people could afford it and started eating bad carbs (those so popular in Western countries) – they would quickly become obese. You often see it when migrants from the Asian or Island Countries immigrate to a westernized country and quickly gain weight, with access to so much fast processed food – unlike what they ate at home.
Good Carbohydrates are those that have not been over processed – which still contain much of the original goodness and fibre (roughage). Good Carbs are also known as unrefined or complex carbohydrates. They include fresh fruit, bran based cereals, wholemeal bread, brown ride, peas and beans, and root vegetables – potatoes and sweet potatoes.
When I attended Weight Watchers they used to say we should avoid Potatoes and Bananas and Pumpkin because they were starchy – when in fact – it’s really what we used to add to the food (butter, oil etc). Those foods are actually really good carbohydrates.
OK so on now to the Bad Carbohydrates - these include most foods that are white – or refined – over processed – white sugar used in coffee, tea, sweets, cordials, biscuits. Coke and other soft drinks, everything made from white flour – biscuits, crackers, muffins, crumpets, pastry, cake, white bread and rolls and cereals where the fibre has been removed. These cereals have less than 5g fibre per serving.
Before the days when they didn’t know how to remove the outer husks from the wheat, there were hardly any diseases like bowel cancer, diabetes, or obesity. Fibre is needed to help remove the carcinogens from our intestines and move them through the bowel for good.
Good carbs like fresh fruits and vegetables, potatoes, and wholemeal breads – fill us up and prevent overeating. In addition, unlike the bad carbs – they are not converted into fat!
What about bread?
Totally avoid white bread in all forms. Be careful with brown bread which in some cases is merely coloured white bread! Instead choose breads with 2.5 g of fibre or more per slice.
How about potatoes?
If your potatoes are boiled, microwaved, or baked in their skins they are a wonderfully good Carbohydrate, which will assist in your weight loss programme. However when prepared as fries, roasted or mashed (with butter) they become fattening. (It’s what we add).
What about high energy ‘carb’ drinks?
These are disastrous for your weight loss programme -the carbohydrate used in these drinks is bad and has the effect of blocking the removal of unwanted fat.
How about fresh fruit?
Fresh fruit is actually better than dried – it has fibre and a natural sweetness. Fruit can have a bad rap – for no good reason. Especially bananas! Try and limit your snacks each day to two – and one serving of fruit is one snack – one banana for example.