What you need to know about carbohydrates

Updated: Jul 8, 2021


Every day I consult with clients I can pretty much guarantee I will have at least one person tell me they avoid carbohydrates because they “make me fat” and then in the next breathe they tell me they are making poor food choices after dinner and have low energy levels. So, in my first blog post for WA Health Group I thought I would explain a bit about why we need carbohydrates and how to incorporate them into your diet.


So, first things first, what are carbohydrates?


Carbohydrates, or CHO as I will be referring to them, are a large group of compounds that are broken down, or digested in our bodies to produce glucose. Think of glucose as being the fuel for your car. Glucose provides energy to work our heart, lungs, muscles, brain and kidneys. Our brain relies predominately on glucose for energy to help us concentrate, think clearly and balance our mood, as well as power our muscles when exercising. The majority of my patients who tell me they are avoiding CHO because they “make me fat” also tell me their energy levels are much lower and they don’t have the same motivation they used to. If you have been paying attention you will see a bit of a pattern here…low CHO intake plus low energy levels and lack of motivation….I will leave that one with you!


Once I have explained a bit about CHO and why they are important to my client I then pose the question…You wouldn’t let the fuel in your car run out so why would you allow the fuel in your body to? This usually gets them thinking. Some come back and tell me their body will just burn fat, which in part is true, but I will leave that topic for another day. Other’s have a bit of a light bulb moment and realise they do need CHO, but are just unsure of which ones to choose. This leads me to the next bit of education I provide to them.


Firstly, CHO are not the bad guys, the incorrect type of CHO and the amount you eat are what make these guys turn ugly! So, what do I mean by ‘type’ of CHO? Well I can’t explain this without mentioning the term ‘glycaemic index’ or GI. GI is a way of comparing different CHO-containing foods based on how they affect your blood glucose levels (BGL). High GI CHO result in a rapid rise and decline in BGL compared to low GI CHO which cause a more gradual and lo