Good carbs Bad Carbs

 Good carbs Bad Carbs


Rather than me or anyone else telling you what to eat I wanted to give you a very very brief explanation of what carbs are,, what are their properties and types of carbs are there. The reason I want you to know this is because then you will be able to make informed decisions by yourself rather than rely on someone else to do it for you.

Dietary carbohydrate (CHO) is digested and utilised in the body in a variety of ways. It is ultimately sent to the liver, muscles, or used immediately as a fuel. Some glucose may enter the adipose tissue (fat tissue), where it is used to help store fat.
Carbohydrates are often thought of as the primary source of energy in the human body.

However, it really depends on what the body is doing at the time.

– under normal daily activities we use carbohydrates and fats for energy

– as the intensity of an activity increases the contribution from fats diminishes and carbohydrates increases.


There are three basic categories::

  • simple carbohydrates also referred to as “sugar”
  • complex carbohydrates also referred to as “starches”
  • non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) referred to as “fiber”




Simple carbohydrates have a very basic structure and usually only contain one or two units of sugar, made up from a combination of glucose, fructose and galactose.

Fruit: a healthy choice Less healthy options: biscuits, cakes, confectionery, soft drinks
  • contain fructose and glucose in varying amounts
  • contain vitamins and minerals
  • contain antioxidants and phytochemicals
  • contain high levels of dietary fibre
  • contain trace of amino acids
  • contain excessive sugar – higher than 15g per 100g (FSA)
  • contain processed, low quality fats
  • high energy density
  • contain no vitamins or minerals
  • adversely affects insulin response


The importance of vitamins

The energy contained in these foods cannot be released without specific vitamins and minerals.

For example we cannot utilise any carbohydrate without the B vitamins.

Fresh fruit provides its own vitamin and mineral requirements for the body.

Heavily refined and processed foods provide us with energy but without needed vitamins and prolonged use of refined carbohydrates can lead to a depletion of certain nutrients. This type of food is often referred to as an “anti-nutrient”.




They consist of multiple molecules which join together to form molecules of glucose called polysaccharides. Once eaten the polysaccharides are broken down into glucose, absorbed into the bloodstream and either stored or metabolised accordingly.

All such carbohydrates will provide energy. However, their real dietary value centers on whether they are refined or unrefined.


Refined carbohydrate

Unrefined carbohydrate

  • white bread
  • white pasta
  • cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • rice cakes
  • CHO content of processed foods
  • white rice
  • wholemeal or whole grain products
  • whole grain rice
  • frozen vegetables
  • fresh vegetables
  • sweet potatoes
  • yams
  • pulses
  • quinoa



  • contain excessive sugar – higher than 15g per 100g
  • contains processed, low quality fats
  • high energy density
  • contain no vitamins or minerals
  • adversely affects insulin response
  •  contains fructose and glucose in varying amounts
  • contains vitamins and minerals
  • contains antioxidants and phytochemicals
  • contains high levels of dietary fibre
  • contains trace of amino acids




  • consists of non-starch polysaccharide (NSP), indigestible plant material such as cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, pectin, gums and mucilages.:
  • found in: fruits, vegetables, grains, beans
  • doesn’t provide any energy, yet scientists believe it is vital for a healthy body as it aids it the transportation of foods through the digestive tract by bulking out the food and faeces for ease of movement.


Insoluble Fiber – the outer protective layer of plants.

  • unrefined wheat
  • bran
  • rye
  • rice
  • most other grains
  • fruit and vegetable skins

Soluble Fiber – found on the inner part of plants.

  • beans
  • barley
  • broccoli
  • prunes
  • apples
  • citrus fruits
  • oats

Soluble fiber has been proposed to help with the reduction in cholesterol by binding with fats in the digestive tract and carrying them out in the stools.



Now the question is which of the 3 types of carbs is better. The answer would be none and all of them.


The reason I give this answer is because every type of carb has it’s benefits on the body. An we need all of them if we are to have a well rounded and healthy diet. 


Simple carbs (sugars) give us energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Remember we need vitamins to be able to utilise the carbohydrate.

Complex carbs (starches) contributes to energy and has fibres, vitamins and minerals.

We need fibers for a healthy digestion process.


The real issue is the quality of carbs we ingest and the quantity, as well as what we do with all that stored energy, where does it go?



UK Nutritional Guidelines recommend about 50% of calories to come from carbohydrate. More than that and it’s probably not a great idea.


The specifics of the national food model provide the following targets:

Adult males: 2550 calories per day
Adult females: 1950 calories per day


The total amount of calories should be divided across each of the macronutrients to achieve the following ratios:

• minimum of 50% calories from carbohydrates
• maximum of 35% calories from fats
• minimum of 55g of protein per day (9-12% calories)


If you would like to know more please book a free consultation with me.

Nutritional Guidelines


Nutritional Guidelines




In the UK we have adapted the original food pyramid and underpinning guidance to follow what is called
‘The Eatwell Plate’ . This simple guidance model in its current form was introduced in 2007, though earlier
versions existed prior to this.

It provides an alternative illustration of the similar basic guidelines around food
and nutrition found within the US pyramid. Whilst the above illustration itself is very simplistic and provides
less descriptive guidance than the pyramid, the guideline documents behind the national model provide some
more directed advice.

‘The Eatwell Plate’ is also supported by 8 specific healthy eating tips as stated by the Foods Standards Agency:

1. Base your meals on starchy foods
2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables (5 portions per day)
3. Eat more fish ( 2 portions a week, 1 oily)
4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
5. Try to eat less salt, no more than 6g a day
6. Get active and try to be a healthy weight
7. Drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses per day)
8. Don’t skip breakfast

Although I do not fully agree with the first one, the others are very good tips and should be taken into account.

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The specifics of the national food model provide the following targets:

Adult males: 2550 calories per day
Adult females: 1950 calories per day

The total amount of calories should be divided across each of the macronutrients to achieve the following ratios:

• minimum of 50% calories from carbohydrates
• maximum of 35% calories from fats
• minimum of 55g of protein per day (9-12% calories)

The different macronutrients contain calories and useable energy. The values vary slightly, but are usually referred to with the following approximate figures:

• carbohydrates 4 calories per gram
• proteins 4 calories per gram
• fats 9 calories per gram
• alcohol (not a nutrient) 7 calories per gram

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In trying to eat according to the national guidelines some may find incessant calorie counting a challenge
and may prefer instead to guide themselves less intensely by following the suggested portion sizes.

The following table provides some guidelines as to what counts as a typical portion. Manufacturers can
vary what they call a ‘portion’ in their favour to ensure their label information fits better with current
nutrition trends. Be sure to read labels carefully.


Food group Portion guide
Fruit Small fruit – 2 satsumas, 2 plums, 2 kiwi, 7 strawberries, 14 cherries. Medium fruit – 1 apple, 1 banana, 1 pear, 1 orange. Large fruit – half grapefruit, one 5cm slice of melon, 1 large slice of pineapple. Dried fruit – about 30g, one large heaped tablespoon of raisins or sultanas, handful of banana chips. Fruit juice – 150ml glass of unsweetened juice
Vegetables Green veg –  2 broccoli spears, 4 heaped table spoons of kale, spinach, or green beans. Salad veg  – 3 sticks of celery, 5cm piece of cucumber, 1 medium tomato, 7 cherry tomatoes. Cooked veg  – 3 heaped tablespoons carrots, peas, corn or cauliflower
Bread, rice, pasta and potatoes 1 slice of bread. Handful of rice or pasta, Handful of breakfast cereal. One small to medium potato
Meat, fish, eggs and beans Lean meat the size of a deck of cards1 large egg. Side of fish the size of a standard checkbook. Handful of beans, nuts or seeds
Milk and dairy Small cup of milk150ml of yoghurt. Piece of cheese size of small matchbox
Food and drinks high in fat or sugar Limit these foods to no more than 8% of total intake
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Organic food

The Soil Association states that some of the key reasons for purchasing organic are:
• minimal use of additives
• no pesticides, fungicides or herbicides used in production
• no genetically modified foods used
• no routine antibiotic use on animals
• animal welfare is paramount

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Nutrition and health

There is no doubt that the food we eat and physical activity, or lack of it, plays a significant role in both
preventing and managing health problems.

The following list of commonly occurring, modern day health complications and diseases have all been
shown to have a root cause or risk factor associated with food and diet.

• obesity
• heart disease
• stroke
• some cancers
• metabolic syndrome
• diabetes
• hypertension
• high cholesterol
• asthma
• some types of arthritis
• menstrual irregularities
• infertility
• eczema

If you would like to read more about nutrition, recognised places to seek nutritional information include:

• Food Standards Agency
• Committee on Medical Aspects (COMA) of Food and Nutrition
• British Nutrition Foundation
• Institute of Optimal Nutrition
• scientific nutrition journals e.g. British Journal of Nutrition