Are carbs the weight loss villain?
The fright that people all over the world have been given regarding consumption of carbs is not justified at all. Carbs are present in many foods, in many forms. Yet, people fear the main cereal sources of rice and wheat, more so, rice, as the major diet villain. Ask any diet freak you know and he will surely say that he has cut out rice totally and reduced wheat and wheat products.
Since carbs are our main energy sources, where are these carb-cutters getting their energy from?
I know a young lady who visibly lives on salads only and yet, is quite obese. How can this happen? The act of cutting out rice and bread gives such people a false comfort. By avoiding rice, they do not realise that the other items they are consuming are also secretly providing them with carbs.
Moreover, I have seen some people cut out rice when they wish to consume sweets, puddings, snacks and special meals. They think they are ‘safe’ by avoiding the villain carbs in rice!
Nutritionists have been crying themselves hoarse about this misunderstood belief and yet it is very difficult to convince the strong believers.
Please understand that your energy requirements should be met as follows and when doing so, you have to choose complex carbs that are found in good cereals, fruits and vegetables and not in the refined sugars, cereals and processed foods. That’s why, it is better to eat a balanced meal at home with rice and roti, rather than the pizzas, biryanis, and heavy meals outside.
Salads alone are not satisfying, they do not balance the meal and they often go along with rich dressings. Soups are questionable too, from the nutritional angle.
Energy requirement plan: Depending on your calorie requirement, the following ratio is advised:
You need 50 to 60 per cent of calories from carbs, 15 to 20 per cent from proteins and 20 to 30 per cent from fats. This is for a balanced meal. The same proportion should be followed for reducing diets but the total calorie requirement should be reduced and therefore all the 3 food groups should be proportionally reduced.
Suppose, the normal requirement for a young woman is 2000 calories per day:
60% from carbs is 1200cals and this works out to 300g carbs as each gram of carbs gives 4 cals.
15% from proteins is 300 cals which works out to 75g, as each gram of protein gives 4 cals.
25% from fats is 500 cals which works out to 55g fat, as each gram of fat gives 9 cals.
Fat includes visible and invisible fats, i.e., visible fats are external fats added to foods, such as oil, ghee, butter and invisible fats are inherently found in some foods like milk, meat, nuts and oil seeds
So, if you need to reduce this for a weight reducing diet, the total calories can be cut down to 1200 or 1500 cals per day.
For a 1200 calorie diet:
60% carbs is 720cals and 130g
15% protein is 180cals and 45g.
25% fat is 300cals and 33g.
For a 1500 calorie diet per day:
60% carbs is 900 cals and 225g
15% protein is 225 cals and is 56g.
25% fat is 375 cals and 42g
Any which way you consider, carbs are essential for health and they are better obtained from complex sources than from simple and refined sources. Please consult your dietitian before you start your fad diets.
The author is a retired professor of WCC, Chennai; retired Dean, Academy of Fitness Management, Chennai and Past President, Indian Dietetic Association
Image: arnold inuyaki