Carbohydrates (carbs) are an essential part of our diet, providing most people with their main source of energy. In the last few decades, however, carbs have become plentiful and relatively inexpensive, leading some to believe we are eating far too much of this type of food, and this may be responsible for the increase in our waistlines. But is this true? Do we really eat too many carbs, and how can we reduce the percentage of our dietary intake of this macronutrient?
What does the research tell us about our modern-day carb consumption?
In August 2018, the world-renowned Lancet published a landmark study on this subject entitled, ‘Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis’. While this may sound somewhat grim, the study aimed to get to the bottom of whether carbohydrates and our longevity are related. One finding pretty much summed what they found, “In the meta-analysis of all cohorts (432,179 participants), both low carbohydrate consumption (<40%) and high carbohydrate consumption (>70%) conferred greater mortality risk than did moderate intake”. Yes, you read that correctly; too few and too many carbs lead to more adverse outcomes. In other words, grandma’s advice of “everything in moderation” is absolutely correct when it comes to carbs, at least. They found that the optimal level of carb consumption is around 50 – 55% of a person’s diet.
The study also concluded that those who swapped carbs with protein and fat from animal sources also had a higher risk of earlier mortality and, conversely, those who switched out some carbs to plant-based sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter and whole grains significantly lowered their mortality risk.
We also know that the amount of carbs we eat affects our levels of blood insulin. If we eat a meal high in carbs, this will raise insulin higher than a meal lower in carbs (although how fast this rises depends on the type of carbs eaten).
How can I balance my carb consumption?
As we have established, it is important to keep our level of carb consumption in balance. One of the challenges, however, for anyone trying to lower their level of carbohydrate consumption is finding realistic and sustainable alternatives. After all, pasta and bread is incredibly convenient, relatively inexpensive, and who wants to eat quinoa every day anyway? If carbs represent more than 50 – 55% of your regular diet, one easy way to reduce the amount but keep eating foods such as pasta is to switch to pasta made from a different source than regular white pasta. For example, our ‘Pure Protein’ pasta is made from high-quality pea protein, which contains 40% fewer carbs than regular pasta while being high in protein and providing eight essential amino acids. By adding to this more fruit, vegetables, legumes (i.e. beans and lentils), and grains in a whole form, you can ensure you have enough in the way of fibre, nutrients, and antioxidants for overall optimal health.
Carbs form an essential part of our diet, and rather than looking at cutting it out completely or reducing it to very low levels, research shows that we need to balance our intake of this key macronutrient. By ensuring that high-quality carbohydrates represent around half your diet and by increasing your intake of plants in their various forms, the science shows unequivocally you can boost our longevity and feel much better for doing so.
Try our low-carb pasta, Pure Pasta
Our premium, plant-based vegan dried fusilli pasta is made from high quality pea protein, with no added soy, eggs, milk or whey products. It doesn’t contain trans fats, colourings or preservatives, or any products of animal origin and contains 40% less gluten than regular pasta. Ingredients are of 100% European origin. Use code RECIPE10 for 10% off! Buy here.
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