Myth: Carbs will make you fat! Ok, there’s a little bit of truth to this one. Of course, if you gorge yourself on crisps, chips, and other fatty carbs, you will gain weight. But, not all carbs are bad for you, in fact, low-calorie carbs can keep you energized, full and even healthy.
So, what are these mystery miracles and how can you avoid putting on weight, while seeking that satisfied feeling?
What carbs do
Carbs are short for carbohydrates, they are one of three macronutrients found in our food, the others are protein and fats. Usually, food contains all three of these elements, just in varying quantities, making it next to impossible to avoid one type, and that’s for the best. Our bodies need all three to function.
Now, back to carbs. Carbohydrates contain sugar, starch and fiber, and form an essential source of fuel for the body. This is also precisely why, when you hear the phrases “non-sugar carbs” or “carbs without sugar” you should exercise caution.
Carbs perform three functions for the body:
• They are a source of fuel – keeping the body’s processes moving.
• Help protect against disease – fiber can improve digestion, and suggestions show carbs are influential on heart health.
• Controlling weight gain – despite the claims that “carbs make you fat”, they are quite effective in maintaining a healthy weight in humans.
As carbs are digested, their individual properties are broken up and used for specific purposes within the body. The sugar, from the carbs, when absorbed, enters the bloodstream. There, it is met by insulin that transports it to feed the body’s cells. If the body is receiving too much ‘fuel’, it can turn to fat.
But, the story with carbs isn’t as simple as overeating and gaining weight.
Simple and complex
Not all carbs are equal. There are two generally well-recognized types of carbs – simple and complex. Simple carbs have one or two types of sugar; they make up your not so low-fat carbs, such as sodas, fast food, sugary foods etc.
These are known as fast-release carbs as they give out short, immediate bursts of energy from the spikes in blood sugar.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, release their energy more slowly. As the effect on insulin levels lessens, so does the impact on your waistline. So, let’s discover more on which carbs to eat and which to avoid with our low-calorie carbs list.
Top 5 low-fat carbs
1. Fresh fruit
Top of our list and probably the lowest calorie carb. Fresh fruit is packed with energy and contains lots of vitamins to keep your body healthy. There are loads of different fruits in the world, so you’ll never get bored eating it. Fruits do vary in the number of calories per gram that they contain, some of the lowest are apples, melons, and strawberries. Be careful to limit juices and dried fruit as they often contain more calories than fresh fruit.
2. Beans and lentils
Full of fiber, packed with protein, iron and folate. Both beans and lentils are slow release carbs that can keep you fuller for longer and bring a little bit of comfort on a cold winter’s night.
Another filler, oats provide your body with the essential fuel it needs to keep going and can also make quite a tasty breakfast. Be careful to avoid processed varieties, such as microwave oats or instant oats; these are often loaded with sugar. Our tip? Soak your oats in water or milk overnight, as this cuts down on the cooking time in the morning.
4. Milk products
Packed with protein, calcium and lots of other vitamins and minerals. By adding cheese, milk, and other dairy products to your diet, you are helping your body maintain its muscles and bones. If you’re particularly concerned about weight loss, consider looking for lower fat varieties.
Potatoes get a lot of bad press, but actually, the Irish had it right, potatoes are quite good for you. They contain a lot of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, B6, minerals and iron. So, feel free to enjoy in moderation. But also be sure to cook healthy; added oils and butters will add to the carb (and calorie) count.