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Diet & Nutrition

Can carbs help you lose weight? A dietitian answers your questions

Don't be fooled, carbs are not the enemy!

By Alex Lilly
As the new year approaches, we're all thinking about getting our summer bodies ready, making the move to healthier foods and working off all that weight we gained over Christmas.
But before you surrender yourself to a lifetime of lettuce leaves and carrot sticks, there is hope. For years, we've been under the impression that in order to shift the kilos we have to cut out our favourite delicious carbs but it's simply not true!
We chatted to dietitian and nutritionist Lyndi Cohen to get the low-down on carbs and what they mean for weight loss.
Umm...no. (Image: Paramount Pictures)

Where did the myth that carbs make you gain weight come from?

From the Atkins diet that skyrocketed to fame in the 2000s through to today's Keto and Paleo obsessions of today, low-carb ways of life have been popular for years. And yes, you may lose weight from cutting out carbs but there are many other ways to lose weight.
"Eating fewer calories from fat or protein will also result in weight loss," says Lyndi.
"The idea that carbs are intrinsically fattening is wrong and the idea that you need to avoid carbs to lose weight is completely not true."
So what's the drama with cutting out carbs? It's just not realistic, according to Lyndi.
"The challenge with low-carb diets is that many people struggle to stick to the diet and still eat out with friend - so it's often not a highly sustainable and long-term approach."
Carbs are not the enemy! (Image: Paramount Pictures)

So which carbs are best to eat when trying to lose weight?

Before you order a family-sized pizza for yourself, remember not all carbs are the same. Like fats, there are good and bad ones.
"The best carbs to eat to lose weight contain fibre, protein and are low-GI, to help give you more sustained energy," explains Lyndi.
"Wholegrains like oats, brown rice and quinoa are pantry staples for me because they keep me feeling full and satisfied. Research suggests that the type of carbohydrate you choose is more important for your weight than simply eating fewer carbs."
Wholegrains, fruits, starchy vegetables like corn and sweet potato plus dairy foods like yoghurt with gut-loving probiotics are excellent healthy carb choices for weight loss. So ditch the refined options, like cakes and lollies for a simple but cost-effective weight loss swap.
SunRice ambassador Lyndi also shares her favourite carbs to eat for long-lasting energy.
"I often have rolled oats with some seeds, nuts and chopped dates for breakfast and I keep SunRice SuperGrains microwave cups in my desktop drawer for a convenient wholegrains addition my lunches. When I eat healthy carbs with all my meals, I notice my sweet cravings are reduced, I'm more productive at work and my workouts are better."
WATCH: Five foods to boost metabolism. Post continues...

Why are wholegrains so good for you?

Wholegrain foods are a great way to up your healthy carb intake as they tend to contain more fibre, protein and have a lower GI than processed foods.
Refined carbs such a bread, cakes, pastries and pasta often contain additives like salt, sugar, fat or preservatives," says Lyndi.
"Whenever possible, swapping refined, white carbs like pasta and white bread for wholegrains like brown rice, quinoa, oats and barley is an easy way to boost the nutrition of your diet."
Opt for wholegrains like rolled oats, brown rice and quinoa. (Image: Getty Images)

Do I need to stop eating carbs at night to lose weight?

The short answer is no, it's a myth! In fact, eating healthy carbs at night can help with your weight loss.
When we exercise, our body mainly burns carbohydrates and glycogen for energy so by eating those clean carbohydrates at night you will restore glycogen for the next day. Not only that but these carbs give your body the glucose it needs to regulate your blood sugar levels during sleep. Your body can then use this stored fuel to burn more body fat for energy the next day.
"As carbohydrates are our bodies' preferred energy source, often eating enough healthy carbohydrates like brown rice and oats can help give you energy," says Lyndi.
"This may mean you have better quality workouts and actually find it easier to stick to their weight loss goals in the long term."
WATCH: The best time to exercise might be later than you think. Post continues...

What are some top tips to stay on track and avoid those unhealthy carbs?

Whether it's Christmas party season or just a get-together with friends and family, we often find ourselves surrounded by unhealthy treats. And even though we want to enjoy and indulge, it's important to keep a healthy balance.
"I think that the best strategy is to have a healthy, daily routine that keeps you grounded and balanced – which frees you up to relax at gatherings," advises Lyndi.
"Start your day with a healthy breakfast, pack a lunch rich in wholefoods for work, snack on fruit or yoghurt and keep on exercising. So even if you go out for a lovely dinner, have a few drinks or extra puddings, your normal routine will help you feeling balanced."
Have a healthy, daily routine so when you celebrate every now and then, you'll still feel balanced. (Image: Instagram @chrissyteigen)

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