The CARBOHYDRATE debate has gone on for some time. What are they? Are they good or bad? Should I avoid them to lose weight? Do they give me energy?

Healthy eating means that all food groups should be included in your diet. The human body is designed to get energy from carbohydrates, they should never be avoided, but it is important to understand that not all carbs are alike. There is a big difference in REFINED and COMPLEX carbs. Let me explain:

REFINED carbohydrates

Made up of simple sugars, refined carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. They are linked to weight gain and diabetes as the rapid increase in blood sugar levels, if not required is put into storage eventually laying down as fat. When the level falls you feel hungry again. This is called HYPOGLYCAEMIA and causes fatigue, headaches, sweating and shaking. The long term result is obesity. Examples are white bread, white rice, white pasta, pastries and refined cereals.

*Fruit and vegetables are the exception – They are simple carbohydrates, still composed of basic sugars, but the FIBRE slows down their digestion making them more like complex carbohydrates.

COMPLEX Carbohydrates

Made up of longer sugar chains, complex carbohydrates are starches and naturally occurring sugars rather than processed or refined sugars. Such foods also contain fibre. They take longer for the body to break down and use. This provides you with a more even amount of energy instead of peaks and troughs, so keep you going throughout the day. Eg whole-wheat and wholegrain bread, wraps, pittas, pasta and rice (brown in colour).

So for healthy eating carbohydrates are an important part of your diet, but that doesn’t mean loading up on cakes and biscuits. The higher in sugar and lower in fibre, the worse the carbohydrate is for you.

Our corporate partners, McCambridge Bread has really tackled the carbohydrate issue and have produced a new range of breads which are healthy carbohydrates. McCambridge products are low fat and have no added sugar, preservatives, colour or flavourings. They are highly nutritious and are very tasty with all kinds of toppings. As always, bread should be consumed as recommended by your Weight Management Adviser. But with so much choice under the McCambridge brand you might need a little help understanding the difference between these popular products:

SPELT SODA BREAD (red label)

This bread is new to the McCambridge range and is high in vitamins and minerals, especially B complex and magnesium. It is also high in water solubility so nutrients are easily absorbed by the body. It is gentle on the digestive tract and strengthens the immune system. The beauty of this spelt bread is that it is 10-25% higher in protein than other breads which is crucial for muscle protection, strength and endurance. It is a superb source of insoluble fibre which reduces total and LDL cholesterol levels. This can also help the avoidance of gallstones as it moves through the intestines faster and reduces the secretion of bile acids. Therefore for those with digestive problems this is the bread to choose.


Arguably one of the most popular breads in the Irish market….Whole wheat bread is less refined than other breads, and retains more of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Stone ground whole wheat means that the flour is healthier because of the grinding process; the grain is milled lightly between stones. The entire wheat grain has been used and no white flour is blended back in. This gives a much better taste and texture. This bread is low in fat, has no added sugar and is a rich source of dietary fibre.

LOW GI BREAD (blue label)

The GI (GLYCAEMIC INDEX) of a food tells you whether the carbohydrate in the food is fast or slow releasing. Low GI means that the carbohydrates break down slowly and release glucose more gradually. This is most important in healthy eating and weight management as hypoglycaemia can be avoided and blood sugars balanced. High GI foods have the opposite effect, there is a sudden burst in energy and then a slump, this quick burn-out leads to sugar cravings and binges. Low GI is less than 55, high is greater than 70. The added linseeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds provide selenium, vitamin E, calcium and zinc. This product is particularly high in protein for lasting satiety. It also contains essential fatty acids which are important for heart health and for balancing hormones and mood.

These breads, while eaten in moderation are highly nutritious. For optimum health, and to promote weight loss we recommend combining your favourite McCambridge bread with a protein topping.


To speak to a Motivation Weight Management Adviser or to book an assessment consultation, find your local clinic contact here.

Blog Post by Claire Jackson