Friday, 28 November 2014

To Carb or Not to Carb?

The discussion on weight loss and carbs makes emotions run quite high every time the topic crops up in the Finnish weight loss group I belong to on Facebook. Everyone has a very strong, absolute opinion on the matter, and there seems to be no room for compromise or relativity. Most people think that carbs and weight loss cannot go together - their advice to everyone is that if you want to lose weight, ditch the carbs. Myself, I am of the relativist mindset, thinking everything is subjective, even - or perhaps especially - when it comes to losing weight. Not everyone's body responds to everything the same way as everyone else's. My advice: as long as something works for you and doesn't do you any harm, go for it! For myself, instead of no-carb or low-carb, I prefer slow-carb.

You can read more about fast and slow carbs here, but basically, the difference is that fast carbs get digested quickly, causing a spike and then a crash in blood sugar, making you get hungry again soon after you've eaten them, whereas slow carbs take time to digest, causing a gradual rise in your blood sugar and sustaining you for much longer, avoiding the crash. Brown rice and lentils are both staples in my diet, and both of them belong to the slow carb group. I would never even want to consider ditching them from my diet! I also eat some fast carbs, like fruit for instance, but most of my daily energy intake comes from slow carbs like lentils, vegetables, brown rice and other whole grains. Yummy and healthy!

Of course, in addition to carbs, I also include the recommended amounts of protein and unsaturated fats in my diet. I believe in the good of diversity, both in my diet and in my exercise routine. I think the bad reputation some of the basic, natural nutrients such as carbs and fats have comes from the food industry abusing them for its own needs, adding "too much of a good thing" into the food products to make more money by appealing to our appetites to make us consume more of them. These super sugared and/or super greasy "foods" and drinks are indeed unhealthy, but it is because of the giant quantities of fats and sugars/carbs in them are unhealthy, not because fats and sugars/carbs themselves are unhealthy - because they aren't, not when consumed in the right quantities. Moderate quantities of each carbs, fats and proteins are, in fact, essential for our well-being. That's why I believe in getting my energy from diverse sources, that are as unprocessed as possible in this day and age, and that I can afford with the very limited income I have. As much as possible I steer clear of refined, white flour and sugar, pre-packaged meals, anything with added sugar and/or fat, and basically try to buy everything as "clean" as possible, with as few additives as possible.

But remember, this is only my personal approach to healthy eating, and not necessarily the right one for everyone else! You do what you think is best for you, find your own personal answers, the main thing is that both your body and your mind approve of your choices. Health and healthy eating are always very subjective matters, for we are all individuals both on the outside and on the inside. Whatever your personal choices are, make sure they are right for you.