Let's talk about carbs!

everything you need to know about carbs

When people start to diet, they will typically cut the carbs first. While carbohydrates are commonly known to be the main culprit when it comes to weight gain, there are many things people don’t understand about carbs.

After eating too many carbs many people will start to put on weight, their blood sugar levels will spike and the body will produce large amounts of insulin. Insulin’s primary function is to help cells absorb glucose (blood sugar). If there are no other cells that need glucose then it starts storing fat. This process leads to increased energy

What is a carb?

Carbohydrates are molecules that are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Carbs form part of the three macronutrients along with protein and fat.

Carbohydrates are influenced by many factors such as food type, health, exercise and life stage (pregnancy or menopause). Carbohydrates generate energy for the human body; carbs come in various forms. These include starch, fiber, sugar .

Dietary carbs have three categories: 

  • Fiber. We cannot digest fiber, however, the bacteria in our digestive systems do make use of some of this fiber which is also vital to your overall health.
  • Starches. Starches are long chains of glucose molecules. Over time they eventually get broken down into glucose on our digestive systems.
  • Sugar. Sugars are short chains of carbohydrates found in food. Examples are glucose, galactose, sucrose, and fructose


One of the core purposes of carbs as part of our diets is to provide fuel to our bodies. Carbs get broken down and transformed into glucose which we then use as energy. Carbs are often also stored and used as fat for your body to use later. The only exception to this is fiber. Fiber does not directly provide us with energy. However, fiber does feed the good bacteria in our digestive systems which they use to produce fatty acids that our cells can use as energy.

simple carbs vs complex carbs

Good carb vs bad carb

It is important to remember that there are good carbs and bad carbs. Carbs can be referred to as whole or refined. Whole carbs are unprocessed and contain fiber that is naturally found in food. Refined carbs are processed carbs that have their natural fiber removed or changed. 

Examples of unprocessed whole carbs include:

  • Vegetables
  • Quinoa
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grains

Examples of processed refined carbs include:

  • Sugary sodas
  • White bread
  • Pastries
  • Other items made with flour 

Consuming refined carbs tend to cause spikes in blood sugar levels which then leads to hunger and food cravings. Refined carbs also lack essential nutrients, so when you are eating refined carbs, essentially you are eating empty calories.

Whole carbs are loaded with nutrients and fiber and don't cause any spikes or dips in our blood sugar levels. Consuming whole carbs like vegetables and whole grains showed that it can improve your metabolic rate. 

Three common carb myths

Carbs make you gain weight

If you have ever tried a diet or are on one now, we are willing to bet that you "cut carbs" completely out of your diet. Cutting carbs will definitely help you to lose weight initially, however, this may be due to water weight loss. Over time, you will probably regain all the weight back after eating normally again. This is where whole carbs and refined carbs come to play. If you consume an excessive amount of refined carbs, it will inevitably lead to weight gain. Also, adding whole carbs to your diet is often a lot more sustainable. So adding healthy carbs to your diet can actually help you keep the weight off. 

Our bodies don’t digest carbs very well

This simply is not true for healthy carbs. The bloated feeling you get after eating white bread, pasta, or baked goods is often due to the fact that refined carbs contain a protein called gluten, which often makes people bloated. On the contrary, healthy and whole carbs are important when it comes to healthy gut bacteria. Good bacteria help us to keep our gastrointestinal tract healthy and can even act as a barrier of immunity against harmful bacterias in our gut. So stock up on whole grains, beans, and vegetables for a healthy digestive system.

One should try to avoid carbs altogether

With this blog, we aim to debunk this notion altogether. Carbs have a lot more health benefits than you might think. Complex carbs play a vital role in heart health and are often extremely important to those who suffer from diabetes. The fiber we find in carbs has a positive effect on our cholesterol levels and can even help regulate blood sugar and keep our energy levels balanced during the day. 

Healthy carbs

Try these tips for adding healthy carbohydrates to your diet:

1. Start the day with whole grains.

You know how people always say breakfast is the most important meal of your day? Well they're not kidding! Studies have shown that eating a healthy, well balanced breakfast sets us off for success all morning long. Try steel-cut or old fashioned oats (not instant) as an excellent way to start out strong. You'll want something light enough in carbs so it won't keep you too full during later hours but try also picking one with at least 4 grams fiber per serving - this will help keep regularity steady and promote digestive health when things get hectic throughout workday's course

2. Use whole grain breads for lunch or snacks.

Where do you look if you're looking for a whole-grain bread? Look for bread that says "whole wheat" or another whole grain as the first ingredient - and even better, one made with only whole grains, such as 100 percent whole wheat bread.

3. Also look beyond the bread aisle.

Whole wheat bread is frequently prepared with finely ground flour, and breads are frequently high in salt. Instead of bread, consider a whole grain salad such as brown rice or quinoa.

4. Choose whole fruit instead of juice.

A glass of orange juice, for example, has half as much fiber and twice the sugar.

5. Pass on potatoes, and instead bring on the beans.

Beans, on the other hand, are a fantastic source of slowly digested carbohydrates and should be consumed in place of potatoes – which have been shown to promote weight gain. Beans and other legumes like chickpeas also provide a substantial amount of protein.

So to conclude, we hope that we have established that carbs are not our enemies. Refined carbs can be a massive obstacle in weight loss if you don't consume them within limits and whole carbs are an essential part of your daily necessary nutritional intake. In chapter 7 of Healthy body with the right foods” available on our website, they cover the topic of “choosing the right carbs”. Here you will find insightful information to get you started on your weight-loss journey. 

Related Posts

Are you in a toxic relationship with food?
Are you in a toxic relationship with food?
Let’s get real for a moment. Being in a toxic relationship with food is a lot more common than you might think. In mo...
Read More
Everything you need to know about meal prepping!
Everything you need to know about meal prepping!
What is meal prepping?   The term meal prepping is pretty self-explanatory. It literally refers to the process in whi...
Read More
Are you thinking about going vegan? What you need to know!
Are you thinking about going vegan? What you need to know!
Aah, veganism, the latest dietary trend among fellow South Africans. Veganism started as a popular dietary preference...
Read More

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published