What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are a macro nutrient and are found in a lot of different foods. All carbohydrates break down to form sugars. Complex carbohydrates are larger and simple sugars are smaller molecules. Their main role in the body is to provide energy.
Sources of carbohydrates:
Complex Carbohydrates: Cereals, oats, rice, potatoes, sweet potato, quinoa etc.
Simple sugars: Table sugar, fizzy drinks, sweets, sports drinks/gels
As stated above, carbohydrates are a macro nutrient needed by the body for energy. It is the body’s preferred source of energy but it is not the only source. Fats are also an energy source. But the brain needs carbohydrates. If you have ever went on a low carb diet, you will understand the term ‘brain fog’ where your brain just seems to slow down. You can survive without carbohydrates and use fats as an energy source (ketosis) but it is not the optimal state for the body and especially not long term.
So why so much hype about ‘Low Carb’?
As with all diets, low carb diets are based around a calorie deficit. By reducing the amount of carbohydrate in your diet you are reducing your calorie consumption. Most people will substitute the carbohydrates for fats in the diet. Fats tend to keep you satisfied for longer but they are higher in calories than carbohydrates. Carbohydrate: 1g = 4 Kcal. Fat: 1g = 9Kcal. This is where people downfall on a low carb diet. They think they are succeeding in going ‘low carb’ but their calories are much higher than normal. And remember, no matter what diet you are on, you must be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.