BESTFIT columnist and presenter Ben Coomber urges you to control your portions before you start cutting anything out of your diet.
There is still a lot of information floating around on the internet demonising carbohydrate-based foods, whether that’s whole foods like fruits, vegetables or starches such as bread, pasta and potatoes. There is also an increasing demonisation of sugar, which certain celebrities are backing in large numbers. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say added sugar is good for you; it’s not, especially not in high amounts, but we have to remember that sugar is the simplest version of a carbohydrate.
So if you eat spinach, a banana or a slice of bread, it all gets broken down into sugar, in some form or another. It’s the body’s most natural and simple form of energy.
We need to understand and appreciate that for many, there is a large amount of anxiety around carbohydrates. Too many people are literally scared to eat them, thinking they alone will make them fat, that’s without going into sugar consumption. The reality is, if you eat too much of anything, you’ll get fat. Calories still matter; carbohydrates don’t skip the calorie equation and magically make you fat. Sure, they will make you fat if you overeat and those calories happen to come from carbohydrates, but that doesn’t make it the fault of the carbs. It’s down to the overall food overconsumption: our fast chip-eating hands.
This is key, because if we want to manage our weight, we must manage our daily dietary intake. This can be through counting calories, or it can be through an awareness of knowing what’s in your food and making wise choices and portion controlling what you eat. Therefore, recipes, such as the one I have developed for this issue, has rough weights and portion sizes to follow. This is so that the average person can have an idea of how much they should be eating at meal times. This breakfast idea (but you can eat overnight oats at any time) is also a high-carb meal. Sure you can make it lower carb by making some swaps, but it’s often a high-carb dish. There is nothing wrong with a high-carb breakfast, many people work superbly well from a high carbohydrate diet, it’s their fuel source of choice.
On the flip side, there are many people who like a high-fat breakfast, and who like to keep things low carb, because that works for them. Ultimately you need to find a diet, in terms of the proportions of macronutrients you eat at each meal (protein, carbs and fats) that works for you. Then we slap portion control on top and hey presto, we should have the holy grail of nutrition, a diet that makes you feel good (the proportions of each macronutrient you eat) and a diet that is portion-controlled for your needs.
Low-carb eating is popular because it often inadvertently helps you lose or maintain your weight. Why? Because you end up cutting out a key food group that is easy to eat a lot of. If someone eats low carb, they often don’t eat cereals, pasta, bread, potatoes, added sugar etc. This inadvertently drops your overall calorie intake as you are cutting out a major food group, not because there is inherently any magic taking carbs out of your diet. It’s simply because you dropped your overall food intake and thus gave the body a chance to burn some fat for energy. Now we’ve run out of time to talk sugar today, but safe to say it’s not good for you (added sugar, that is), but it’s also not evil, so if your diet has a minimal intake, you’ll be just fine and suffer no ill effects. Catch me in the next issue!
Banana Overnight oats
This is a simple dish that you can make the night before you want this amazing breakfast (it can also be eaten whenever you want, especially pre or post-workout, as it’s very easy to boost the carb content high). It’s a super convenient and cheap dish to make. It’s also very versatile and adaptable.
- 25-35g Banana whey protein
- 1 whole ripe banana
- 50g rolled oats
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- 100-150g whole yoghurt
Put the rolled oats in a Tupperware container, bowel or mason jar. Mix the whey protein with the milk (you can use water if you wish to save more calories, and not add the yoghurt to save even more calories, but it won’t have as much flavour), and put this over the oats, not using more than 200ml of milk otherwise the dish will be runny and not as easy to eat. Add a layer of sliced banana on top, then the yoghurt, and sprinkle with cinnamon (nutmeg could also be added if you have some). And there you have it, simple, tasty, effective.
What are the nutritionals for the above? (easily adapted for your needs/calorie intake)
Calories: 600 approx
High in protein, quick to make, convenient, low cost, rich in potassium and calcium, high in fibre, can be adapted to using different fruit, whey protein, milks and more.
An introduction to Ben Coomber on BESTFIT TV – Coming Soon