The low carb trend seems to rise and fall periodically and lately the not so new trend has also flooded the plant based circles.
First of all, all plant based folks out there, seriously, if we stop eating carbs, what are we left with?! (I know sun diet seemed to work for one or two people but still, you know…).
I think it is important to shatter this old bad Atkins myth. Carbohydrates are good for you!!!
Carbohydrates provide the body with sugars which provide energy to the cells, muscles, brain etc. How is energy measured? In calories! So in nutrition for dummies’ terms: more carbohydrates = more calories = more energy. Isn’t it great?
I think the confusion comes because there are two types of carbohydrates that we can consume.
The first type is built from chains of molecules of complex sugar. It takes a longer time for the digestive system to break these complex sugars into simple sugars and release them slowly into the blood stream. The body will make good use of this stream of sugars and use it for energy for the cells and many other functions. Foods that contain complex carbohydrates include: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread/pasta), legumes (beans, lentils, peas) and many types of vegetables like pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato and more.
The other type of carbohydrates is build of molecules of simple sugars. The simple sugars are absorbed quickly through the intestines, since they don’t need to be broken into smaller units, like complex carbohydrates, and go at once into the blood stream. The sudden flow of simple sugars into the blood stream is what is often called ‘sugar rush’ which indicates a sudden increase of the blood sugar level. To cope with this state the body releases larger amount of insulin and stores this sugar as fat. This has two consequences: you gain fat (either external fat or fat which is stored between the inner organs) and the sugar level in the blood goes rapidly down which results in decrease of energy, brain function and your mood. This state can often lead to manic depressive behavior and melancholy known as ‘sugar blues’.This type of simple sugar is found in: white sugar, brown sugar, honey and even fruits. Everything that tastes sweet to us is a simple sugar. But also refined products from which the fibers, proteins and minerals were removed function in the same manner: white rice, white pasta, white bread etc.
So yes, carbohydrates can be harmful if the wrong type of carbohydrates is consumed. However let us not forget that human nutrition has been based for thousands of years on whole grains, beans and vegetables. All food groups that are rich in carbohydrates and that provide the body and the brain with the energy it needs for its daily function. It is unreasonable and against our nature if we decide to take them out of our plates.
My dear friends (and food bloggers) carbohydrates are good for you! Eat many of them! Plenty of them! 3 times a day! I did so for the last 10 years and I never had any weight problems. On the contrary, whole grains, beans and vegetables, all items which contain high amounts of fiber are rather associated with foods that help you to loose weight, or more important, allow the body to be in its natural weight.
My blog and my cookbook Vegan for Friends is full of recipes rich in carbohydrates. Feel free to stroll through it, cook something delicious and feel great.