Not all carbs pro­mote weight gain

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE -

CAR­BO­HY­DRATES have largely been shunned by the health­con­scious in re­cent years, but cer­tain kinds do not ac­tu­ally cause weight gain, re­search has in­di­cated.

Known as re­sis­tant starches, they nat­u­rally oc­cur in cer­tain car­bo­hy­drate-rich foods ( far right) such as beans and legumes, whole grains and even rice and pota­toes.

The Dukan and Atkins di­ets, both hugely pop­u­lar, limit in­take to lit­tle to no car­bo­hy­drates in their ini­tial stages, and have con­trib­uted to their bad rep­u­ta­tion.

But con­sul­tant di­eti­cian Re­becca McMana­mon, from the Bri­tish Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion, said carbs were an im­por­tant part of our food in­take, and urged cau­tion over re­duc­ing them too dras­ti­cally.

“You will achieve weight loss in the short term but it is not sus­tain­able,” she said.

“Car­bo­hy­drates per se will not make us gain weight. Cer­tain fi­bres that we get from car­bo­hy­drates can ac­tu­ally be of ben­e­fit to us.”

Where peo­ple go wrong, McMana­mon said, is with “por­tion dis­tor­tion”.

“The por­tions that we are pre­sented with in restau­rants are of­ten big­ger than we re­quire,” she ex­plained.

Cut­ting out starchy foods from your diet could put you at in­creased risk of a de­fi­ciency in cer­tain nu­tri­ents, lead­ing to health prob­lems, un­less you’re able to make up for the nutri­tional short­fall with healthy sub­sti­tutes.

Re­sis­tant starches get their name be­cause they re­sist di­ges­tion – and pass through our body dif­fer­ently to their re­fined coun­ter­parts.

Un­ripe ba­nanas, some seeds and brown rice flour also con­tain them.

Di­eti­tian Sian Porter says car­bo­hy­drates are such a broad cat­e­gory, and peo­ple should know that they are not all the same.

She said: “It is the type and quan­tity of car­bo­hy­drate in our diet that is im­por­tant. While we should re­duce the amount of sugar in our diet, we should base our meals on starchy carbs.

“There is strong ev­i­dence that fi­bre, found in whole grain ver­sions of starchy carbs, for ex­am­ple, is good for our health.”

Ac­cord­ing to the UK’s Na­tional Health Ser­vice, “about half of your daily calo­rie in­take should come from starchy foods, fruit and veg­eta­bles”.

Cer­tain foods even develop re­sis­tant starches when left to cool – in­clud­ing pasta, potato and white rice.

Prof Paul Arciero, an ex­pert in health and ex­er­cise sci­ences at New York’s Skid­more Col­lege, con­ducted a study into ex­plor­ing re­sis­tant starches as a healthy food for peo­ple with Type-2 di­a­betes.

He told Time: “Af­ter you eat a meal that’s prin­ci­pally car­bo­hy­drate, the fact that your body can burn a greater per­cent­age of fat as its en­ergy source is very un­usual.

“If you can com­bine a re­sis­tant starch with a hard­boiled egg, or whey pro­tein, or pea pro­tein, or chicken or Greek yo­gurt, that’s a pretty pow­er­ful com­bi­na­tion.”

Starchy foods fill the stom­ach, boost en­ergy and give the brain a sero­tonin kick.

Whole grains are high in fi­bre and have been linked to pre­vent­ing ail­ments from heart dis­ease to bowel can­cer.

They are also rich in B vi­ta­mins, iron and potas­sium.

Nutri­tional ther­a­pist Libby Li­mon, said: “Some peo­ple can eat grains with no prob­lem at all.

“It de­pends on your in­di­vid­ual abil­ity to di­gest grains, and on your im­mune sys­tem and blood sugar reg­u­la­tion.” – The In­de­pen­dent

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