Live Better

Do you really need to ditch the carbs?

For men: what an expert thinks of low-carb diets.

BBQ meal spread, with burgers and turkish bread

With an abundance of carb-phobic messages in the media, the temptation for many is to indiscriminately eliminate carbohydrate foods, including grains.

And ABS data shows that low carbohydrate-diets are more popular for Australian men than women.

One of the key problems with the low-carb or no-carb approach is that although we are getting rid of all those nutrient-poor carbohydrate foods – like cakes, pastries, pies and pizza — we also lose out on the nutrient-rich, quality carbohydrate foods. These include whole grain or high-fibre grain foods, legumes and starchy vegetables. And they provide key nutrients for health, not to mention the fuel we need to get through those tough workouts!

The problem with our diets

The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council ‘2014 Consumption and Attitudinal Study’ showed that only one in 10 young men are making smart carb choices when it comes to grains, with this demographic being the most likely to consume takeaway meals such as burgers, sausage rolls and pizza1.

Not only are these foods higher in saturated fats and salt, they also lack the nutrients we need for health, and may actually increase the risk of obesity and chronic disease over time2.

The study also found that Aussie men have a long way to go to turn around their habits, with two out of five eating less than one serve of whole grain foods each day1 – well short of the three serve per day recommendation.

The simple secret to a healthier weight

What many young men may not realise is that whole grain and high-fibre grain foods have actually been linked to healthier weight measures and a reduced risk of being overweight 3, 4.

Additionally, whilst it may not be a priority today, the benefits of a healthy eating pattern that includes quality grain foods extends beyond ‘shredding’ and may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers in the long-term2, 5, 6.

It’s time for young Aussie men to ditch unhealthy convenience foods that are holding them back. The evidence shows that eating good-quality carbohydrate grain foods can help to optimise physical performance and health – it’s like putting premium fuel into a high-performance race car.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend six serves of grain foods each day, mostly whole grain or high fibre varieties as part of a balanced diet. Think wholemeal bread, whole grain breakfast cereal, brown rice and whole grain crispbreads. Just watch your portion sizes!

To get yourself off to a healthy start, check out these simple recipes

For more on healthy eating, contact an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) – they provide practical, tailored advice based on the latest science, and can help motivate and support you to take charge of what you eat. Visit the ‘Find an APD’ section of the Dietitians Association of Australia website at

1 GLNC. 2014 Australian Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal Report. Unpublished: 2014.
2 NHMRC. Australian Dietary Guidelines Providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. 2013 Accessed online January 2014.
3 Williams PG, Grafenauer SJ, O'Shea JE. Cereal grains, legumes, and weight management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence. Nutrition reviews. 2008;66(4):171-82.
4 Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364(25):2392-404.
5 Griffiths T. Towards an Australian ‘daily target intake’ for wholegrains. Food Australia. 2007.
6 Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, Fadnes LT, Boffetta P, Greenwood DC, et al. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Bmj. 2016;353.

Latest Articles

Healthy Living

How a lack of sleep affects your mental health

Getting enough sleep is crucial for your mental wellbeing.

Read more
Healthy Living

How to conquer your fear of the dentist

Dr Merrilyn Hooley's tips for a less stressful appointment.

Read more
Healthy Living

Are you a cyberchondriac?

Dr Google could be making you anxious.

Read more
Healthy Living

Can you reduce the effects of PMS?

Up to 30% of women experience severe premenstrual syndrome.

Read more
Healthy Living

How to have a conversation about suicide

Reaching out to someone you care about could save their life.

Read more

Can social media ruin your social life?

What’s social media doing to your mental state?

Read more
Health Insights

When should you worry about your teen?

Teenage angst or depression? How to tell the difference.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4