WHERE’S THE SCIENCE AT?
One of the biggest dilemmas in nutrition science is collating the latest evidence on carbs into one-size-fits-all national dietary guidelines recommended by health professionals.
Current dietary guidelines recommend around 50 per cent of our daily kilojoule intake comes from unrefined carbohydrates that are high in fibre and have a low-glycaemic (GI) index. These foods include wholegrain breads, pasta and cereals, legumes (chickpeas and lentils), fruit and starchy veg like potatoes. Most of us aren’t overdoing the amount of carbs we eat, but we could do better on quality.
However, with the increasing levels of inactivity, obesity and type 2 diabetes in developed countries, there’s growing evidence to suggest that reducing the amount of carbohydrates in our diet — in tandem with increasing the proportion of protein and healthy unsaturated fats — may be beneficial.
Low-carb diets & weight loss
Some research suggests that, in the short-term, lower-carb diets appear to be a safe and effective option for weight loss. In fact, some people find they lose weight more easily when they reduce their overall intake of carbohydrates.
However, when compared with other weight-loss approaches over longer time periods, low-carb diets do not appear to be superior.
Given that over 30 per cent of the average Aussie�s daily kilojoule intake comes from discretionary foods such as biscuits, fast food and chips, most of us could benefit from cutting back on these types of refined, processed carbs.
Low-carb diets & fibre
Going low-carb can make it difficult to meet your fibre requirements, which is why you should never cut out carbs completely. Fibre — sourced primarily from fruit, veg, grain foods, nuts and seeds — is an essential part of a balanced diet. Research shows a high-fibre diet can help with weight loss, and fibre itself is essential to promote good gut health.
Evidence suggests that fibre from whole grain foods is more effective in preventing weight gain when compared to fibre from fruit and vegies. So swapping white, refined carb-rich foods for wholegrain foods is a smart way to ensure you’re not missing out on fibre.
Low-carb diets & type 2 diabetes
Over 20 years of research by the CSIRO and other leading scientific bodies into the most effective way to manage type 2 diabetes found a lower-carb diet results in better blood glucose management, compared to a traditional higher-carb diet.
The CSIRO found that the low-carb diet group experienced greater reductions in their blood glucose levels, blood triglyceride levels, and ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol levels. The low-carb group also experienced greater reductions in their need for diabetes medication.
As a result, the world’s leading health authorities now recognise and support the role of low-carb diets as part of an individualised approach in the management of type 2 diabetes.