203021

Are carbs really bad for me?

Bread and other carbs have a bit of a bit rep with fitness enthusiasts, but are they really that bad for you? We ask sports nutritionist Anita Bean.

203021
Photo | Getty

“Bread has had a rough time over the past few years, thanks to the fashion for low carb, gluten-free and other fad diets,” says sports nutritionist Anita Bean.

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And she isn’t wrong, ask any gym bunny or fitness enthusiast if it’s ok to eat bread if you want to tone up for your wedding, and you’ll likely be met with death stares.

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Anita says, “There is no need for the 99% of the population who do not have coeliac disease to avoid bread”. Here, she answers all our burning questions.

So, is eating carbohydrates, including bread, bad for me?
No they are not. Carbohydrate is crucial; it fuels the brain, nervous system and heart – as well as our muscles for carrying out all our daily activities and exercise. It represents the body’s main energy supply and should make up half of our daily calories. Bread is good for you and is a healthy food to include in a balanced diet.

Why is it good for you?
Bread is low in fat and sugar and makes an important contribution to your carbohydrate, fibre, iron, calcium and thiamine intakes. It also provides more than 10% of the average adult’s intake of iron, zinc, magnesium, protein and B vitamins. Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown bread is particularly high in fibre and white bread is fortified with calcium, so is a good source of non-dairy calcium.

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Will eating bread and carbohydrates make me put on weight?
There’s no particular food or nutrient that will make you put on weight – it’s eating excess calories that makes you gain weight. And it doesn’t matter whether they come from carbs or fat. Whilst cutting out carbs may help shift a few extra pounds in the short term, low carb diet plans are unlikely to be sustainable. Eating a wide variety of foods from all food groups in appropriate amounts as well as taking regular physical activity that you enjoy is key.

What if I’m exercising lots in the run up to my wedding?
Carbohydrate is an important fuel for both endurance and strength activities. If you’re upping your exercise regime, then carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread become even more important for fuelling your body and helping you achieve fitness goals. Including foods such as bread in your pre- and post-workout meals ensures your body is properly fuelling with the nutrients it needs.

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What type of bread should I go for?
Wholegrain bread especially is a good source of fibre, B vitamins and iron. Whether you opt for supermarket packaged bread, homemade or artisan bread, though, makes little difference from a nutritional perspective. The main ingredients – flour, water, yeast and a little salt – are exactly the same.

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Sports Nutritionist Anita Bean supports the Powered by Bread campaign, launched by Active In Style and the British Bakers to challenge the ever growing anti-bread campaign.