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Christmas, crackers and carbs

As the darkness sets in and the nights get colder, we all know Christmas is coming. Crackers , carols, the famous coke advert all play an evident part in the seasonal celebration along with all the food. Yes …food glorious food,  food in abundance from canapes to carveries.  Now for some people this is going to be a tough time of year, making sure that they stick to there fitness programs and not stray too much from the gym.

This time of year sees lots of office Christmas parties and family reunions, not to mention the ‘C’ word…. and I dont mean cancer. I mean carbs. You know that organic compound that consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the fitness freaks friend or foe.

Carbohydrates | Fitness Fashion Lifestyle | Fitness-Fan

So I am going to tell you a bit about carbs and put the myths to rest. Carbs came to fame in the 90’s along with Nirvana. This was the time that “free fat” products where bombarding ours lives, and the masses turned to these structrual saccharides. However, it wasnt long until people learnt that a carb crammed diet wasn’t very healthy.Today, between marketers who push packaged carbs as “heart healthy” and fitness “freaks” who espouse that all carbs are terrible,  no wonder its easy to get confused. Here are some carb myths exposed: 

Myth 1: If you want to eat a low-carb diet, just cut out bread, pasta, cereal, rice and potatoes

Although bread, pasta, cereal, rice and potatoes are among the best-known carbohydrates, the truth is that many other foods have carbohydrates, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, seeds, beans/legumes and avocados. These foods are natural carbohydrates and have greater nutritional value than processed or low-fiber carbs. If you cut out starchy carbs, you are still consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrate depending on your lifestyle, activity level, age and medical issues.

Myth 2: Cereals are “heart-healthy.”

Food manufacturers spend millions of dollars a year on cereal advertisements fooling us into thinking cereal is the best breakfast choice. However, many popular cereals, including granola, contain multiple sources of sugar and fat.

There are healthy cereals, but even eating an average bowl of cereal is like eating 4-6 slices of bread for breakfast in terms of carbohydrate. Many people will skip breakfast, saying that eating increases their hunger. This happens because cereal causes a large increase in blood sugar, followed by a big drop, thereby increasing one’s appetite for the whole day.

Myth 3: Your body needs bread, pasta and cereal to get enough nutrients.

Our ancestors survived for hundreds of years without eating bread, pasta or cereal. All of your needs for vitamins and minerals can easily be met without these foods. A heart-healthy diet can be realized with foods without a label and multiple ingredients. If you are eating a food with a label, try to stick with something with less than five ingredients.

Myth 4: If you don’t eat whole grains you won’t get enough fiber in your diet.

There are many excellent sources of fiber in the diet besides whole grains. Most health organizations recommend eating 25 grams of fiber per day. Just eating a few of these good-for-you foods can easily add up to that:

  • Ground flax seeds, almonds or nuts.
  • Apples and avocados
  • One cup of broccoli or beans.

Myth 5: If you want to stop eating too many carbs look for foods with “net carbs” on the label.

Net carbs is a term the food industry made up as a way to fool consumers into thinking their products contain fewer carbohydrates. To arrive at a net carb number, they take the carbohydrates coming from fiber or sugars known as “alcohol sugars” and subtract them from the total amount of carbohydrates.

The premise is that those carbohydrates from fiber or alcohol sugar are not processed by the body, or have minimal effects on blood sugars. Maltitol is one of the primary alcohol sugars found in foods, and it does increase blood sugars. Fiber adds bulk to food, but to think it does not add any calories or impact blood sugars is a fallacy and has not been proven by research. Net carbs on labels are just another way food manufacturers use to market their products.

Recommendation: A healthy way of eating with carbs is to eat natural carbohydrates  from vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, beans and legumes. They have a low glycemic index (meaning they do not raise your blood sugar) but they also contain fiber, and are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to enhance your health … and we all know there is nothing mythical about that!