First, fat was demonised and now carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation. But is the move to grain-free living justified? Are carbs really the devil? Our dietitian and nutritionist Lyndi Cohen tells us how it is.

It’s true that you don’t need carbohydrates to survive but research also shows you’re better off with carbohydrates in your diet.

Carbohydrates are also your body’s main (and preferred) energy source. So when you skip carbohydrates, your body starts to use fat and protein for energy instead.

So, does that mean you should cut out carbs if you want to lose weight?

Not exactly.

Whilst swapping to a carb-free diet may result in weight loss, to maintain the results, you’ll need to spend the rest of your life avoiding carbohydrates. This may be fine for some, but missing out on pasta is not part of my life plan.

And it’s not just the taste that you’ll miss when you cut carbs from your diet.

Carbohydrates are also really affordable and satiating meaning they help you feel full and satisfied. Including slow-burning carbs into your diet is a really fantastic way to supply your body with long-lasting fuel.

There is really good evidence that fibre, found in wholegrains like brown rice, lentils, freekeh, oats and quinoa, is really good for you and can help you manage your weight. These types of minimally processed carbohydrates provide your body with slow-burning energy, helping to balance your mood and hormones.

But not all carbohydrates are created equal. Some are better for you than others.

Sugary treats and soft drinks will give your body a big hit of fast-burning carbohydrates, which can cause a big spike in blood sugar levels. Once the sugar high wears off, you’re left feeling lethargic and lack-lustre. So it’s best to keep treats foods as occasional (not every day) choices.

Take home message?

  • Minimally processed carbohydrates like whole grains contain fibre, help keep you feeling full and are really good for helping you manage your weight.
  • If you don’t want to live without carbohydrates, then don’t cut them out of your diet temporarily.
  • Swap refined and processed carbohydrate choices for slow-burning wholegrains.

So there you go, you deserve a sandwich. Sounds like you’d better browse our menu today.