Top reasons to eat carbs

Caitlin Reid
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Despite being tainted as an evil villain by numerous fad diets, carbohydrates are vital for a healthy functioning body. Here, dietitian Caitlin Reid looks at the top reasons why you should eat carbohydrates daily.

The idea of carbohydrates being bad for us is a commonly held misconception. While all carbohydrates are not created equal, the good news is, certain types of carbohydrate-containing foods can offer you a number of benefits. Carbohydrates can be ranked according to how quickly or slowly they are absorbed as glucose into the bloodstream.

Low GI carbohydrates are harder to digest, meaning they are steadily absorbed into the bloodstream, producing a constant supply of energy. On the other hand, high-GI carbohydrates are easily digested and produce marked fluctuations in the supply of glucose into the bloodstream. Low-GI carbohydrates are considered better for your overall health.

Here are the top five reasons why you should eat low GI carbohydrates:

1. To give you energy

Carbohydrates, in the form of glucose, are the body's primary fuel source and the only fuel your brain and red blood cells can use. Since our brain cells cannot store glucose, they rely on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel.

During exercise, your muscles also rely heavily on glucose and glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates) for energy. Inadequate supply results in physical and mental fatigue.

2. To boost your mood

Ever followed a low-carb eating plan only to find yourself with an evil temper and suffering from low mood? That's because carbohydrates help our brain make the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood by relaxing you and helping you focus and cope with stress.

Low-carb diets reduce serotonin levels, which results in low energy levels and a general feeling of fatigue. Keep your mood in check by adding a low-GI carbohydrate to each meal and snack.

3. To keep you feeling fuller for longer

Low-GI carbohydrates are slowly digested, which means they slowly trickle glucose into your bloodstream. This provides you with longer-lasting energy and keeps you feeling fuller for longer between meals. This reduces the likelihood of unnecessary snacking throughout the day.

4. To boost your fibre intake

Choosing wholegrain and high fibre varieties of carbohydrates will help ensure you're meeting your daily fibre needs (25g for a female and 30g for a male). Fibre is important for keeping you regular and helping to maintain weight. Excellent choices of wholegrain and highfibre foods are high fibre beakfast cereals, high grain bread, oats and wholemeal pasta.

5. To help you manage your shape

Choosing low-GI and high fibre carbohydrates can also help with weight management. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in fibre are more likely to be successful in managing their weight than those who don't.

ThinkstockVitamins could help with ADHD: study ThinkstockDaily wine boosts immunity: study Image: TLC300 kilogram woman refused surgery Image: GettyHow thin people make you fat

What's your BMI?


Body Mass Index (BMI)The BMI is an indirect measure of body composition, based on your height and weight. Find out yours. MEASURE YOUR BMI Burn BarometerHow many kilojoules do you burn? Calorie CounterHow many do you consume? Energy EstimatorJust how much food should you be eating just to make you through each day? Due Date CalculatorFind out when your baby is due.