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Carbohydrates: Good or bad?

Confused whether carbs are good or bad? We break it down here.

Carbohydrates have gotten a lot of bad publicity in recent years, with people asking whether they should be included as part of a healthy diet.

The answer is yes, they should be. The questions, though, are how much and which ones?

Choosing which carbohydrates to eat regularly and which to reduce can be based on knowing which ones have lots of sugar and hardly any nutrients. If weight loss is a goal, getting the most nutrients for the fewest kilojoules is the aim.

Take a look at the following examples of high and low nutrient carbohydrate choices.

Sack of quinoa grains

High nutrient carbohydrates

  • Fresh fruit (2 serves per day recommended)
  • Vegetables like corn, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato
  • Wholegrain breads
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereals (try for 7 g dietary fibre /100 g)
  • Legumes, lentils
  • Milk, yoghurt (generally known for their protein)
  • Brown rice, wholegrain pasta

Colourful cupcakes

Low nutrient carbohydrates

  • Soft drink, cordial, sweetened drinks
  • Biscuits
  • Lollies, confectionary
  • Icy poles
  • Table sugar – white, brown, raw
  • High sugar, low fibre breakfast cereals

“If weight loss is a goal, getting the most nutrients for the fewest kilojoules is the aim.”

What to eat?

For the best results you need a balance of the high nutrient carbohydrates eaten, enough carbohydrates to fuel exercise, and not too much to store extra as body fat.

Here are a few hints for portion control:

  • Have one carbohydrate source per meal.
  • Keep carbohydrates to a fist size with meals.
  • Keep carbohydrates to a quarter of the volume on your plate (more will be needed if exercising a lot – a sports dietitian can help you work out how much you need).
  • Choose high fibre carbohydrate sources.

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