What is a carbohydrate?
‘Carbs’ are the main source of energy for the body and the only direct energy source for the brain. They come in different forms of sugars, starches and fibre. Even though they are highly villified in current diets, they are of key importance to healthy diets. This is because carbs are macronutrients, meaning they are one of the three main ways the body obtains energy, or calories. Macronutrients are essential for proper body functioning, and the body requires large amounts of them. All macronutrients must be obtained through diet; the body cannot produce macronutrients on its own. There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats.
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What kind of carbs should we eat throughout the day?
Complex carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index are great for snacking. They stabilise blood sugar levels, helping to keep energy levels up throughout the day because they are less processed and the body slowly absorbs them. Some examples of complex carbs are dairy, fruit, grains, legumes and starchy vegetables.
How many times should one be snacking a day?
It honestly depends on how many meals you have, but I would advise one to snack in-between every meal to avoid overeating. For example, if you eat three times a day, then you should have two snacks a day, and drink lots of water too, to avoid confusing thirst for hunger.
Benefits of snacking on carbs
It controls your appetite so you don’t get ravenously hungry and reach for unhealthy junk food. It also helps us keep to a moderate amount of food when we do eat our next meal. This then helps prevent weight gain or even weight loss.
It also helps you power through your tasks between meals and with brain activity and memory. Specifically, complex carbohydrates, because they are a stable source of energy.
Carbs that are high in dietary fibre help prevent constipation and indigestion. These include broccoli, lentils and rice.
Excellent carb-fuelled snacks:
- Vegetables like corn, peas, brussel sprouts, sweet potato and potatoes. Besides being healthy whole grains, they are also full of vitamin C and fibre.
- Fruits like bananas, strawberries, melon, blackberries and raspberries.
- Wholegrain breads, rice, pasta and rice cakes.
- Legumes including beans, chickpeas and lentils.