Embracing winter and nutrition throughout the colder months are vitally important with one essential aspect of winter being carbohydrates. 

We sat down with our lead recipe developer Greer Calabro to shed light on the importance of carbs at this time of year and how they contribute to our overall well-being. 

Get ready to discover how these vital nutrients can help you stay energized, nourished, and ready to face the months ahead.

What are some common misconceptions about carbohydrates? And why do we have these misconceptions? 

Carbohydrate intake = weight gain

Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not the enemy. One of the most common misconceptions about Carbohydrates, is that they lead to weight gain. Low carb diets, whilst having evidence of short term weight loss, have been shown to be no more effective than a traditional caloric restriction. Reducing carbohydrates can also lead to low energy and reduced long term compliance to weight loss goals.

Are all carbs equal?

There two main types of carbohydrates, Simple Carbs (High GI) and Complex Carbs (Low GI). The biggest difference is the way they are broken down in the body. 

Complex carbohydrates require more work from the body to break them down, resulting in a slow, sustained release of energy. They are higher in vitamins and nutrients and include fibre which helps keep you fuller for longer. Wholegrain pasta, wholegrain bread, oats, legumes and vegetables are some good examples of complex carbs. 

Simple carbs are broken down quickly, causing a quick burst of short lived energy. They are low in nutrients and easy to over consume. Simple carbohydrates are found in sugar, honey, maple syrup, desserts, biscuits and processed foods. 

At Equalution we practice balance not restriction and believe in an 80% wholefoods and 20% soul foods approach, so you fill your day with nutritious foods and still enjoy your daily desserts.

Why are carbohydrates important, particularly in winter? 

Carbohydrates are the easiest form of fuel for our body to access, consuming carbohydrates daily not only helps with energy production but can improve digestion, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and help in mood and nervous system regulation. 

Craving carbohydrates during winter? You aren’t alone and there is a scientific reason for this.  In Winter with the decrease in sunlight hours and exposure our bodies hormone production can be affected. An increase in melatonin (the sleep hormone) along with a decrease in serotonin (the mood boosting hormone) can make us feel tired and unmotivated. Ensuring an adequate intake of complex carbohydrates throughout the day can help avoid the dreaded 3pm slump and ensure you aren’t reaching for sugary snacks to boost your energy and mood.

How can we tell if we’re low in carbohydrates? 

Feeling, tired or experiencing brain fog? This could be a sign you are not consuming adequate carbs – our bodies’ preferred source of fuel. Continued low carbohydrate intake can result in constipation, digestive issues, high cholesterol and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. At Equalution we recommend a minimum of 45% of your daily caloric intake to come from carbohydrate sources.  

What kind of carbohydrates are particularly useful in winter? Why? 

Our bodies have an increased need for low GI carbohydrate, in the winter due to reduced daylight hours and sun exposure. Including these in your diet can help to boost your mood and provide you with sustained energy to keep you functioning at your best.

What foods are these carbohydrates found in? 

Some of our favourite foods to include in winter are oats, rice, whole grain bread and pasta, fruits and vegetables. Including a variety of carbohydrates in your day is key to optimal health.

What is an example of a winter-friendly meal plan you would recommend for someone wanting to eat a balanced diet? 

Breakfast – Banana Bread Baked Oats 

Morning Snack – Popcorn and Fruit

Lunch – Mediterranean Salmon Bowl

Afternoon Snack – Hummus and Veggie Sticks

Dinner – Mexican Loaded Sweet Potato Fries