'Eat Right' Challenge, Carbs - Day 2

Emma White - Nutritionist

What carbs should I be eating?

We don't like the term 'good carbs' and 'bad carbs' – because that demonises the whole food group, and we're trying to get across the message that carbs are not bad for you! It's just about choosing wisely. So we'd prefer to use the descriptions – 'your usual' carbs vs 'even better' carbs. Carbs come in different types:

Complex carbs (starches) have larger molecules making them harder to break down in the body, releasing energy slowly.

Simple carbs (sugars) have small, simple molecules that are quickly broken down in the body and release a surge of energy.

Fibre is a carb but more likely to be found in complex carbohydrates. The body may or may not digest it (depending on the type), and it aids in the healthy functioning of the gut.

Quality calories: great carbs to choose

  • Wholemeal bread
  • Brown rice
  • Giant couscous
  • Oatcakes e.g. Nairn, any variety
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereal (e.g. Shredded Wheat, Bran Flakes, Fruit and Fibre)
  • Porridge – made with milk or water (if using sachets, use the plain variety rather than sweetened)
  • A handful of plain nuts
  • Jacket potato (eat the skin!)
  • Quinoa
  • Fruits and vegetables with their skins on

What carbs should I avoid or limit?

Carbs that fall into the 'fast energy release' type are the ones to limit. So the carb foods with high sugar content – see the list below.

At Nutracheck, we don't say 'never' eat these foods as nothing is banned, but consume with care. These carbs are the ones that are very 'moreish' – one portion is okay, but if you find it hard to stop at one, then it might be best to avoid.

There may be occasions when we need food with fast energy release. Still, if you struggle with energy dips and snacking, you are best to avoid foods that give a quick energy burst (when the sugar enters your bloodstream) followed by a slump shortly after – which gets you reaching for another sweet fix. Switching your carb choices will help break the cycle.

Carbs to curb

  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Sugary drinks
  • Confectionery
  • Sugar added to hot drinks

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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