Love them or hate them, there is no escaping the dreaded “c” word: carbohydrates. People of Mzansi share their most guiltiest and healthiest carby pleasures.
Durbanville fitness enthusiast Dean Roberts (40) says that potatoes are definitely a winner when it comes to starches. “I love slapchips man; they are my favourite without a doubt. So, I would not go a long way without potatoes either in my cupboard or in my diet,” he confesses.
For his workout life carbs are “extremely important”.
“Because they are mostly classified as complex carbs. Traditionally complex carbs have always been seen as healthier options as they gradually release sugar into the blood rather than causing a blood sugar levels to spike rapidly,” he explains.
The trick lies in moderation, he believes. “Because starches are calorie-heavy, consuming too much will have you potentially in a calorie surplus, which will result in weight gain but also start affecting blood sugar levels negatively.”
‘Carbs help me to bulk up’
Philippi bodybuilder and journalist Maliviwe Myburgh (25) eats carbs for the benefit of her weightlifting journey.
As a sports woman, Myburgh says starches are important sources of energy and they are very efficient for her needs. She adds that carbohydrates also help you fill up for longer.
Gqeberha psychologist Theo Ntlangu (31) agrees and says, “My favourite carb, which will always find its way into my system every other day in the week, is pasta. Besides the fact that we grew up playing with pasta as kids while eating, I love pasta because it gives me a lot of energy, as well as bananas.”
Ntlangu also leads a busy life and hardly has time for breakfast. “I don’t have time to eat in the morning, and my practice keeps me busy a lot. So I eat one banana before office time, and I would fill up for a longer time,” Ntlangu says.
Carbs don’t deserve your hate
Spokesperson for the Association of Dietetics in South Africa Lila Bruk, tells Health For Mzansi that there is so much more to carbohydrates than their bad reputation.
Instead of demonizing carbs, you should instead think about them as your body’s personal power source.
The right kinds of carbs and the right amounts of carbs fuel your body and brain and supply an abundance of nutrients too.
Roberts agrees and adds, “Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation in the diet culture.”
“In my opinion and experience having them in moderation and making smarter choices regarding which carbs you consume, can make a big difference in your body composition,” he says.
Why you can gain weight from too many carbs
Ultimately, there must be some sort of calorie deficit created to allow for weight loss. Generally, starchy foods are the foods that many people struggle to portion control. It can in turn lead to a surplus of calories which cannot be utilised and rather are stored as fat, explains Bruk.
She says that people can eat carbs and achieve their weight goals if they opt for healthier and less refined starches like brown rice, seeded breads and sweet potatoes. “Less refined starchy foods are an excellent source of fibre,” she says.
Bruk reiterates that starchy foods do not deserve your hate.“Fibre is essential to regulate digestion, improve the bacterial culture in the gut, and enhance satiety, thus aiding with weight loss.”