Why you need carbs

People seem to regard carbohydrates as "Public Enemy No 1" when it comes to losing weight, participating in sport or trying to build muscles.

Are carbohydrates fattening?

Carbohydrates on their own in reasonable quantities are NOT fattening. Basically one gram of carbohydrate provides 16 kJ of energy, which represents the lowest energy content of all the macronutrients.

Energy provided by macronutrients per gram:

Carbohydrate 16 kJ
Protein 17 kJ
Alcohol 29 kJ
Fat 37 kJ

Alcohol and fat are much more energy-dense than carbohydrates and protein, and fat has more than double the kilojoules found in carbohydrates. As long as you eat carbohydrates like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, porridges and breakfast cereals in sensible quantities without lashings of fat, you will be saving 21 kJ of energy for every gram of fat you avoid.

Carbohydrates with a high dietary fibre content like un-sifted maize meal, whole wheat and brown or low-GI bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, high-bran cereals, oats, samp and crushed wheat tend to contain even less energy because the fibre ‘dilutes’ the energy content.

High-fibre carbohydrates are also rich in B vitamins and minerals and most of the listed foods have a low glycaemic index (GI) which makes them ideal for slimming and to counteract insulin resistance, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other diseases of lifestyle such as constipation.

The best fuel

Carbohydrates are the best fuel available to human beings for physical activity, because the body uses carbohydrates preferentially above fat and protein as a source of energy. Sportsmen and -women will know that glycogen is essential for sustained performance. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and the muscles as a reserve supply of energy. After a strenuous exercise session or a sporting event, the glycogen stores are often totally depleted and need to be replenished before the athlete can exert him- or herself again.

Without carbohydrates, no athlete would be able to deliver a top performance.

Who should avoid carbohydrates?

Only individuals who have tested positive and are allergic or intolerant to certain carbohydrates (e.g. gluten allergy or intolerance to lactose in milk and dairy), need to cut out the offending carbohydrates. This does not mean that people with wheat allergies need to avoid all carbohydrates, they can still eat 100% rye bread, potatoes, sorghum, rice, maize meal, corn on the cob and fruits and starchy vegetables as a ready supply of energy.

The sensible approach is not to avoid carbohydrates, but to include low-fat, high-fibre carbohydrates in your diet especially if you do a lot of physical activity or participate in sporting events.

Source: Dr IV van Heerden, Health24

Healthy Mexican Pasta

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 500 grams lean ground beef
  • 400 grams whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt


  • fresh diced tomatoes
  • chopped coriander
  • diced onions
  • diced avocado

Start by bringing a pot of water to boil for the pasta, once at a boil, be sure to salt the water before adding the pasta.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, brown the beef, using a spatula to break it up in to smaller pieces. Add the onion and spices and cook until the meat is fully cooked. Next, add the canned tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Then add the plain yoghurt, stir and let everything simmer.

Once the pasta is done, drain it, and add it to the meat. Turn off the heat and combine everything together.
Serve garnished with avocado, coriander, onions and freshly diced tomatoes.

Source: www.thetalkingkitchen.com


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