For years I battled with the idea that carbs were the devil. Being a teenage girl is tough enough, then you get told you need to do lots of cardio, be skinny and that carbs will make you ‘fat’, ‘gain weight’ and make you feel and look ‘bloated’. Hearing those words associated with carbs generated only one, obvious reaction – I cut out carbs, or I tried to eat as little as possible.
Pasta – gone. Fruits – gone. Bread – gone. Garlic bread, although my favourite – gone. Pizza – gone. Rice – gone. Potatoes – gone. Everything. I basically lived off cuppa soup, omelettes and protein breakfast drinks.
Happy? I was not. Yeah sure, for the first couple of weeks I lost weight and the whole idea of being ‘skinny’ was in sight.
Being a naive 16/17 year old I was motivated by the feeling of ‘skinny’, which at the time I didn’t realise was stupidly unhealthy. But I kept going. Even when it got to the point that instead of feeling skinny I started getting bloated – the opposite of what I wanted to happen. Where I was not eating enough to keep my body going it basically started eating me from the inside, (non-scientific explanation ever..), taking fat and storing it because I wasn’t giving it enough energy sources on a daily basis. Which resulted in bloating and weight gain. Along side this, I felt so weak and tired all. the. time.
No matter how rubbish I felt, and how much family members would comment on how unhealthy my lifestyle and diet was, I could not stop. Just 3 little comments had scarred me. The thought of eating carbs terrified me, even though removing them from my diet was having no positive effect.
This wasn’t all though. On days where I had no choice but to eat carbs (because I was out for a family meal, or my Mum was cooking!), I would be so bloated I basically looked pregnant. My body was so unused to eating carbs whenever I did eat them, oh my, it was bad.
After time it did start getting to me and I did figure out what I was doing was not good (but that is a whole other story…). Now, I want to use the years of torture I put upon my body to help educate others who are worried about carbs! I want to help rid of this common misconception that they are the ‘devil’, because they are not.
Back then I was silly, and I wish I could go back and tell myself this now.
However, the past is the past, and now years later I jump at the chance to eat carbs, good ones of course ;). Oh man, bread YES. Rice, YES. Pasta, YES YES YES. Anything carby, YES PLEASE; and do you know what? It isn’t bad.
Carbs are essential in a healthy, balanced diet.
- Carbohydrates are and should be the main energy source for the body. Carbs are broken down into glucose and used by the body for energy, fueling all daily activities from going to the gym to just simply breathing.
It is recommended that 45-60% of our diets is made of up carbs.
- Carbohydrates provide nutrients for the good bacteria in our intestines that help us to digest our food.
- And for the avid gym goers, and keen muscle builders… Carbohydrates protect our muscles. As previously mentioned, carbs are the first source of energy for our body. Without it, protein from our muscles will be used instead. This basically means your body will be eating its own muscle. Not good!
- Finally, there are fewer calories per gram compared to fat. A gram of carbs contains 4 calories (same as protein), where as a gram of fat contains 9 calories.
There you have it.
Don’t be scared of carbs. Man up. Eat some good carbs and feel energised!
- Sweet potatoes
- Cous cous
- Butternut squash
- Whole fruits
- Brown Rice
- Sugary drinks
- White bread
- Chocolate (unless you go for dark chocolate!)
- Ice cream
Although the name says it all, ‘bad’ carbs are not REALLY bad if they are taken in, in moderation. Remember, fitness is a lifestyle, not a chore. So you gotta enjoy a treat!
Now, go and eat some carbs.