Low Carbs or No Carbs?

Low carbs or no carbs?

We ask or believe if carbs are good for health or not? Should we consume carbs or should we eliminate them completely from our diet? We should evaluate the positive and negative effects of carbohydrates on our health.

Search on the web about carbs and you will find any type of suggestions for a normal, low or no carb diet. With no doubt you will find doctors, health professionals, gym instructors and food bloggers who agrees with low carb intake but what is the evidence about this?


How low carb diets originated?

The trend for a low carbohydrate diet started in 2015, during an episode of Doctor in the House showed on the BBC. The emphasis was on removing carbohydrates for diabetic patients emphasizing removal of wheat and diary products, fasting and eating 5 portions of vegetables a day without any fruit. As a result, this followed by a speech from Dr Mellor on behalf of the British Dietetic Association (BDA), who advised:

‘This advice is potentially dangerous with possible adverse side effects. Not only is there limited evidence around carbohydrate elimination but cutting out food groups could lead to nutrition problems, including nutrient deficiencies.’

Despite the BDA advice, the media continues to recommend low carbohydrate diets especially for type 2 diabetes (T2DM). This trend also follows in Malta with a lot of people trying different types of diets, from low carb diets to keto diets, experimenting what might work.

In the Eatwell Guide, the recommendation is to have a large portion (45 – 65%) of the diet from starchy carbohydrates. The low carbohydrate diets can be definied:

  • Normal carbohydrate intake = 250g per day
  • Low CHO intake = 136g per day
  • Very low CHO intake = 50g per day
How a low carbohydrate diet works?


Low carb diets are known for weight loss for a short period of time. If, you happen to have tried low carb diets I think you agree that they work for weight loss. But what happens in your body? When not enough carbohydrates are supplied to your body, the metabolic pathways of the body changes converting protein to carbohydrates. As a result, the lost kilos on your weighing scale will be lost from your muscles and not your fat stores leading to a decrease in metabolic rate. In addition, when the short period of diet pass and you re-introduced carbs you will experience a rapid weight gain due to the decrease in metabolism from the previous diet.


Where do we find carbohydrates in food?
Starchy Carbohydrates Simple Carbohydrates
Cereals Fruit Sweets
Bread Vegetables Chocolate
Pasta Milk & dairy products Cakes
Rice Fruit juices Soft drinks

carbohydrate rich food

Carbohydrates and health


Carbohydrates are important for your health because:

  1. Provide energy
  • Your brain cells are only happy when they use carbohydrates as fuel. When the brain does not function properly you will experience brain fog, mood swings and even possible of depression.
  • Your muscles use carbohydrates for your daily life activities, exercise and muscle recovery.


  1. Protect against diseases
  • Fibre protects you against obesity, intestinal cancers and it even acts as a prebiotic
  • Respiratory substrates – carbohydrates are used to synthesis mucous in the upper respiratory tract which protects against virus and bacteria entering your body


  1. A source of vitamins and minerals
  • Vitamin A, B, C, D and K
  • Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron and Selenium



I think all types of carbohydrates can be beneficial for your health if consumed in the right amount. Everyone has different carbohydrate intakes so don’t compare yours to your family, friends or anyone else as this is effected by body type, age, exercise, type of lifestyle and medical conditions.


Chocolate Brownies

This healthy recipe of chocolate brownies is delicious despite its low fat content. It is high in anti-oxidants such as cacao and flavonoids. As a result, these chocolate brownies will help to maintain a healthy immune system to fight off diseases. Therefore, I invite you to check out this healthy recipe and try it for your loved ones.

  • 100 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 25 g low-fat margarine spread
  • 250 g cooked beetroot (in water)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Half teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 10 tablespoons granulated artificial sweetener
  • Half teaspoon baking powder
  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Grease a 20 x 20cm baking tin and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and low-fat spread in a bowl, set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave, stirring often. Leave to cool a little.
  3. Pat away any excess liquid from the beetroot with kitchen paper. Place in a liquidizer with the dissolved coffee, eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Blend until puréed.
  4. Add the ground almonds, flour, cocoa powder, sweetener and baking powder and blend until well combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top with a spoon. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is firm and a skewer inserted into the middle of the brownie comes out with sticky crumbs attached, but isn’t liquid.
  6. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, cut into squares or rectangles and serve.

Nutritional Information

  Per 100 g
Energy (Kcal) 273
Protein (g) 8
Carbohydrates (g) 22.5
of which sugars (g) 15
Fats (g) 16.6
Of which saturates (g) 6.4
Fibre (g) 2.6
Salt (g) 0.5

Healthy food on a low budget

Eating healthy food does not mean that one has to spend more money.


  1. Produce your own food

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is much cheaper than buying from the market. You can grow your crops in your garden. If you do not have a garden, crops can still grow in small pots which can also be used as kitchen decorations.


  1. Meal planning

Plan weekly meals and make a shopping list of the ingredients you need. Make sure you check what you already have in the fridge and cupboards. Make sure to write your plan down because if you go shopping without a menu it is probable that you will end up making lots of impulse purchases.


  1. Shop on a full stomach

If you go shopping on an empty stomach you are likely to buy more food and snacks that are high in sugars and fats.


  1. Buy frozen foods

Frozen fruit and vegetables are equally nutritious to fresh fruit and vegetables. Frozen foods are frozen at the peak of their freshness to preserve their nutrients.

Avoid fruit and vegetables with added salt, sugars and fats.


  1. Shop deals and offers

Offers and deals such as ‘buy one, get one free’ can be a great value. Still buy items you need. Food like pasta and frozen fruit and vegetables are items that you can store and use later.

Be careful to check the expiry date of the items on these offers. Make sure you will use the item before it expires.


  1. Prepare meals yourself

Eating from freshly prepared foods at home usually cost cheaper than buying take-aways or eating out. By preparing and cooking your own meals you can control the type and quality of the ingredients that go in your dish therefore it can be healthier.


  1. Food waste

Any food leftovers can be frozen and used another day. Take-away any food leftovers when dining at restaurants. In Malta 22% of food ends up being wasted therefore each family can save 22% of the budget spend on food.


  1. Expiry date

Make sure you know when the food is not safe to consume. Foods with ‘use by’ date must be consumed until the written date. Foods with ‘best before’ date can be consumed after the written date.


  1. Children eat the same

Toddlers and children should eat the same food and meals prepared at home. Simply blend or chop their portion as suitable for their age. Prepare some extra portions and freeze for the child for another day. Make sure not to add any salt and be careful with spicy food.



Salmon Fishcakes with parsley and chive dressing

In this paragraph, I am going to discuss why you should try this healthy recipe. This healthy recipe contains fresh salmon full of omega 3, herbs and spices rich in anti-oxidants, and fresh breadcrumbs. This will offer you nutritious home-made salmon fishcakes.

Furthermore, to top it up with more nutrients and anti-oxidants try also the healthy recipe of the parsley and chive dressing. As a result, this will also give you that extra great taste.

With all the recipes out there in cookbooks, magazines, and on the internet, do you ever wonder, “What should I cook for dinner tonight?” I enjoy these 2 delicious recipe and therefore I invite you to try this healthy recipe, low calorie recipe that your entire family will love.

Salmon Fishcakes

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 350g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 300g fresh salmon, poached and flaked, or tinned if you prefer
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • handful fresh herbs, (e.g. parsley and dill), chopped
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 slices bread, in breadcrumbs
  • a little oil for cooking
  • lemon wedges, to serve
Parsley and Chive Dressing

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
  • Pinch pepper




  1. Boil the potatoes 10-15 minutes until tender, then mash.
  2. Roughly mash together the salmon, potato, onion, anchovies, herbs and mayonnaise and season well
  3. Form into 4 patties and chill for about 30 minutes.
  4. Dust each fishcake in flour, then dip in the egg and coat in breadcrumbs.
  5. Place the fishcakes on an oiled baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil.
  6. Cook under a medium grill for 2–3 minutes on each side. Serve with lemon wedges.


  • Mix all ingredients together


Nutritional Information

  Per 100g
Energy (Kcal) 176
Protein (g) 10.7
Carbohydrates (g) 16.5
of which sugars (g) 0.9
Fats (g) 9.1
of which saturates (g) 1.5
Fibre (g) 1.5
Salt (g) 0.2

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