By Jarrod Agosta, Dietitian & Nutritionist

Carbohydrates have a bad reputation when it comes to fad diets and weight management. They seem to be an easy target for criticism and a number of high profile “diet plans/lifestyles” advocate for no or very minimal carbohydrate intake in an attempt to help you lose weight. These include Atkins, Keto, Paleo, Dukan, Carnivore…the list goes on.

The truth of the matter is that carbohydrates alone do not make you fat. Overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle are the most common reasons why someone may put on weight. Often the reason why carbs are such a target is because a lot of foods in which carbs are found are also foods that we are advised to eliminate or reduce anyway. Cakes, biscuits, pizza, soft drinks, sweets, white bread/rice etc are all foods that we, as Dietitians, recommend limiting or changing for a healthier substitute.

Carbohydrates do form part of a healthy, balanced diet. The key thing to remember is that wholegrain and wholemeal carbs are the ones that we should be including.

“Most Australians consume less than half the recommended quantity of wholegrain foods, but eat too much refined grain (cereal) foods”

So how much should we consume?

The minimum government-recommended serves of wholegrains per day are:

  • Women: 6 serves for those aged 19-50 years (more if pregnant or breastfeeding), 4 serves for those aged 51-70 years and 3 serves for those over 70.
  • Men: 6 serves for those under 70 years, 4.5 serves over the age of 70

How much is a serve?

  • 1 (40g) slice of bread
  • 1/2 cup (75-120g) cooked rice, pasta noodles, polenta, couscous or quinoa
  • 1/2 cup (102g) cooked porridge
  • 1/4 cup (30g) muesli

6 serves a day of grain foods could look like this:

  • Breakfast: 1 cup cooked porridge (made from traditional oats) = 2 serves grain carbs
  • Morning Tea: Vanilla yoghurt
  • Lunch: Sandwich (made with multigrain bread) with tuna and salad = 2 serves grain carbs
  • Afternoon Tea: Apple and handful of almonds
  • Dinner: Chicken stir fry with vegies and 1 cup cooked brown rice = 2 serves grain carbs

Wholemeal/wholegrain carbs should make up a quarter of the plate

Still not convinced to make the switch from white processed carbs?

In addition to helping with weight management, wholegrain foods have also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. They are a good source of fibre too. Wholegrain carbs can also boost the immune system because they can contain:

  • Iron (iron-fortified cereals)
  • Zinc (brown rice, quinoa, lentils and chickpeas)
  • Vitamin E (breads with sunflower seeds)
  • B vitamins (cereals, breads, brown rice, quinoa, lentils, oats)

To make sure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients for you, scroll down to make an appointment with Jarrod.

Reference: Australian Dietary Guidelines


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