The importance of Carbohydrates

So after all that munching over Christmas and new year I thought I’d look into some of the styles of diet people go on to. While looking at different types of diet I found this one is coming more popular. Carb counting or in extreme case cutting out carbs entirely.

Veggie noodles with curried coconut sauce

Serves 2
Cooks In 15 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating (It says on the site but if you haven’t peeled the veg into noodles before hand then it’ll take considerably longer)
  • 2 green courgettes
  • 2 yellow courgettes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 can of sweetcorn
  • 200 g fresh/canned peas or mangetout
  • 1 large handful of mixed herbs, such as coriander, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme

Curried Coconut Sauce

  • 1 small banana shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 3cm piece of turmeric , or 2 tesapoons ground turmeric
  • 1 lime , plus extra to serve
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • 300 ml coconut water
  • 100 g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon medium-hot curry powder


  1. First make the sauce. Peel and roughly chop the shallot, garlic and ginger, roughly chop the chilli. Juice the turmeric, if using fresh. Zest and juice the lime.
  2. Blitz all the sauce ingredients in a food processor until combined, then season to taste – the sauce should be smooth and creamy.
  3. Using a julienne peeler or spiraliser, cut the courgettes and carrot into long noodles. Place in a bowl with the rest of the vegetables, slicing the mangetout diagonally (if using).
  4. Pour over the sauce and mix well. Pick, finely chop and sprinkle over the herbs and reserved coconut (if using).
  5. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes, until the ‘noodles’ have softened slightly, then serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Now, while I don’t do it myself, leaving the carbohydrates of meals is an increasingly common diet. Everyone knows that carbohydrate give energy but with people being more health and weight conscious they get worried about just where these carbohydrates go if we don’t use the energy that they produce. Our body breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars/monosaccharides and any of the sugars/monosaccharides that aren’t used as energy are then initially stored as glycogen in the liver or muscles. The liver can store approximately 100g of glycogen which is used to maintain basal blood glucose levels between meals, whilst the muscles typically store 400-500g often used during movement. Once these reserves are saturated, excess glucose is converted to fat for longer term storage. Our bodies need energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins for normal functioning. Consuming more energy than we need from any of these sources results in storage of excess energy as body fat.

Nutrient % contribution to total energy intake
Carbohydrate 45-65
Fat 20-35
Protein 15-25

While the amount of dietary carbohydrate required to provide optimal health is unknown, a range of 45-65% of total energy intake was set as a likely reflection because diets high in either fat or protein can have adverse effects.  The upper limit being set to accommodate the essential requirements of fat and protein.

Low-carbohydrate diets, if followed over a consistent period of time, present a number of health concerns. Such a diet is likely to be low in fibre which may lead to digestive issues including constipation. The lack of carbohydrate in the diet means the body doesn’t have a ready supply of glucose, the brain’s primary source of fuel – this may lead to dizziness and headaches as well poor concentration. Other side effects include halitosis, insomnia and nausea. In addition to this the likely increase in the proportion of protein in the diet places an additional load on the kidneys and may lead to problems with bone-health. While the exclusion of all carbohydrates often means less refined sugar in the diet which can only be a positive benefit to health the lower limit of 45% is based on an increased risk of obesity with diets low in carbohydrate and high in protein or fat.


Last updated:04/01/2017


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