Fear of Carbohydrates
The fear of carbohydrates or “carbs” is a relatively common dietary concern. It typically stems from the belief that consuming carbohydrates will lead to weight gain or other negative health outcomes. This fear is often fuelled by popular diet trends that support low-carb diets, such as the Atkins or ketogenic diets, which often promise unsustainable solutions for complex issues. It is important to understand that carbs are an essential nutrient that the body needs to function properly, and aren’t solely to blame for weight gain. In fact the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that 45-65% of your daily energy requirement come from carbs.
Why do we need carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are needed in our diet to provide energy to go about our day and to fuel our cells and brain! When we don’t eat enough carbs throughout the day it can make us feel sluggish and tired and puts us at risk of developing hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). So it is important you eat enough carbohydrates per day to maintain energy levels.
What are some common ‘myths’ around carbohydrates?
“Carbohydrates are bad for you” – This is a common misconception that has led to many fad diets that advocate for low-carbohydrate or no-carbohydrate diets. However, carbs are an important source of energy for the body, and they play a key role in maintaining good health.
“All carbohydrates are the same” – Carbohydrates come in different forms, including simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates (e.g., sugar and refined grains), are quickly digested and can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), take longer to digest and provide a steady source of energy.
”Carbohydrates cause weight gain” – While consuming excessive amounts of any type of food can lead to weight gain, there is no evidence to suggest that carbs are uniquely responsible for weight gain. In fact, many carbohydrate-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are low in calories and can be part of a healthy diet.
OVERALL TIP: Remember it’s important that you don’t cut out or avoid whole food groups like carbs, but rather find the right balance and type of carbs for you to enjoy a balanced diet.