Being Smart with Carbohydrates


Twenty years ago, low fat diets were the all the rage with 97% fat free varieties of every food product you can imagine developed to support the trend. Now in the millennium every second person appears to be obsessed with carbohydrates, or more to the point, cutting them out. It is fairly common to hear individuals comment that they are avoiding carbs at night, or altogether in an attempt to lose weight and the low carbohydrate range of foods available continues to grow. 

While it is true that reducing kilo joule intake generally, whether it is from cutting back on carbs, fat or reducing the size of our meal portions in general will support weight control, a chronic shortage of carbohydrates in the diet is also likely to starve the muscle and reduce metabolic rate long term. 

Carbohydrates are found in plant based foods including bread, rice, cereal, pasta, fruit, and sugars including juice, honey and jam as well as in starchy vegetables such as potato, sweet potato and corn. 

A concept not well explained in diet and weight loss information is the fact that the type of carbohydrates chosen, as well as the portion size is far more relevant to weight control, than simply eliminating them completely. Meals that are based solely around energy dense carbohydrate sources such as plain rice and pasta dishes do tend to offer significant amounts of fuel, which for many inactive individuals may be too many kilojoules. A common example of this is a dinner plate that consists of a small amount of meat and vegetables serve with 2-3 cups of rice or pasta, as opposed to a plate filled largely with lean meat and vegetables with a little pasta or rice to accompany it. 

Another equally important variable is the glycaemic load of the carbohydrates chosen. Unlike glycaemic index in isolation, glycaemic load takes into account the GI of the carbohydrate (how quickly or slowly it is digested) as well as the portion size. In this example, while a potato has a relatively high GI, as it is generally consumed in a controlled portion; it is still a good choice. Aiming for 20-30g of total carbohydrate in your evening meal, will ensure that you are giving the body the fuel it needs, the correct amount, which may mean that you simply need to cut back on your pasta or rice portions rather than eliminate them completely. 

 Type of Carbohydrate  Typical Serve  Amount of CHO  Ideal Serve
 Pasta  2-3 cups  90-150g  1 cup cooked
 Rice  2-3 cups  90-150g  3/4 cup cooked
 Potato  2 Potatoes  40-50g  1 Jacket Potato
 Corn  1 Large Cob  50g  1/2 cob
 Sweet Potato  1 Cup 300g  50-60g  150g (1 1/2 cup)
 Noodles  20g = 2 cups  50g  1 cup cooked

Susie Burrell

Please note: This blog aims to supply user-friendly nutrition information for busy people without comprising on food taste and quality but should be used as a guide only and not in place of advice from your own dietitian or medical specialist. For further information on this topic, please consult your health professional. The content of this blog, including attachments, may be privileged and confidential. Any un-authorised use of this content is expressly prohibited. Any views that are expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of Susie Burrell Pty Ltd.
Category: Nutrition

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