• Wayne Hopkins

Carbohydrates – not the villain you think

Imagine yourself taking a road trip to your dream holiday destination, you get in the car, ready to take off and realise that the fuel tank is empty. You are not going anywhere. No fuel, no go! Your energy tank is very similar. You need to put fuel in the tank. Carbohydrates is that fuel.

Carbohydrates come in 2 forms, digestible (starch) and non-digestible (fibre). When broken down into its simplest form is glucose (sugar), which is the preferred energy for the brain and nervous system, red blood cells and placenta and fetus.

The glucose is stored in the muscle as Glycogen. If you have excessive glucose and the glycogen stores are full the extra will be stored as fat on the body.

If you consume too little carbohydrates glycogen stores will deplete quickly, your body will take protein (from your diet if available) or from your muscle & organs, convert its amino acids into glucose to maintain normal blood glucose levels which can lead to muscle loss, poor immunity and other functions of protein in the body.

If we reduce or eliminate all carbohydrates from our diet we would be unable to meet all our Fibre needs and also the phytonutrients which are found in plants and protect the plant from disease, there are thousands of these identified already, but they appear to stimulate the immune system, slow the rate cancer cells grow and prevent damage to the DNA.

Purpose of Carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are almost exclusively used as a necessary energy fuel source. If you were looking to lose weight or body fat, this is the macronutrient you would probably need to reduce (not eliminate). Your body is smart enough to understand if you don’t give it the fuel it needs it goes looking for the supply elsewhere, which typically means it will tap into the next most available source, your fat tank.

If optimal health is a desire of you or for someone you care about - do yourself a favour and complete a food diary for a minimum of 7 days. I recommend the MyFitnessPal app which has a great tool you could use. It will make you aware of your current macro levels and where you may need to make changes.

Think of it like a nutritional budget, no different to what you do when you are looking to move forward with your finances, becoming aware is the first step.

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