Cutting through carb confusion with Luke Hines

How low is ‘low carb’? What exactly is a keto diet? What’s the difference between good and bad carbs? Luke Hines spills the beans.

There’s no doubt carb confusion abounds and the often dreaded “c” word – that’s carbohydrates – is a hotly debated topic when it comes to weight loss.

Functional nutritionist and The House of Wellness presenter Luke Hines believes it’s all about being smart about the way we eat carbs, and says there’s no one-size-fits-all for healthy living.

He’s so convinced that he has written a book, Smart Carbs, with more than 100 low-carb and keto recipes he says will help us unlock the key to weight loss and great health.

To carb or not to carb?

“Carbs are one of the body’s main macronutrients and key sources of energy, so there’s no giving them up completely,” Luke says.

“You can however, look at finding the right balance of carbs in your diet to help you achieve your own individual health, wellness and happiness goals.

“My Smart Carbs recipes – packed with proteins, healthy fats and fruits and vege – make it easy to pull together a meal plan depending on how many carbs you want to consume.”

The Smart Carb Curve

Luke’s recipes fall into three categories – keto, low carb and sustainable carb – which are also included as zones on his Smart Carb Curve, a visual tool included in the book.

“Simply decide which zone on the Curve fits best with your lifestyle and health goals – whether it’s the very low-carb keto approach, the more flexible low-carb lifestyle or the easy-to-follow sustain route,” he says.

“The curve allows you to make informed, sensible and most of all sustainable choices when it comes to delicious foods.”

1. The Keto Zone (0-50g of carbohydrates a day)

A ketogenic or “keto” diet gets most of its calories from fat and only a small number from carbs and so forces the body to use fat as fuel rather than glucose.

Ketosis is the metabolic reaction that occurs when your body is converting its fats supplies to glucose.

Consuming only this amount of carbs puts you in a serious fat burning zone, says Luke warning that only diabetics or the morbidly obese will find it useful to remain here for extended periods of time.

“The average person might use it now and then to jump-start weight loss or break a plateau before returning to the low-carb or sustain zones,” Luke says.

2. The Low-Carb Zone (50-100g of carbohydrates a day)

“This is the sweet spot for many and will promote steady, sustainable and gradual weight loss,” Luke explains.

“Eat colourful, above ground seasonal vegetables, avoid grains and processed and refined sugars and eat your starchy below-ground vegies and high sugar fruits mindfully and in balance.”

3. The Sustain Zone (100-150g of carbohydrates a day)

Luke says this is a smart and sustainable way to ‘celebrate’ carbs from all of the right sources, without any feelings of restriction.

“For anyone new to this ‘cleaner’ approach to eating, I recommend this as a starting point and it’s the perfect zone if you want to maintain your current body composition.”

Celebrate healthy fats too

All the Smart Carbs recipes are gluten free, dairy free and refined-sugar free.

Regardless of which zone you choose to be in, Luke stresses that it’s vital to find the right balance between supplementary fats and protein.

“By upping your intake of all those great healthy fats and well-sourced proteins, you’ll no longer have room for the usual ‘fillers’ in your diet that don’t even touch the sides,” he says.

“I want to help people balance their meals, mindset and moves for long-term sustainable results. So get ready to crack the carb code and become the happiest and healthiest version of yourself!”

smart carbs

Smart Carbs is published by Pan Macmillan Australia. RRP $39.95.

Written by Liz McGrath.