Raise your hand if you’re guilty of feverishly devouring celebrity weight loss tips in magazines when you’re in the waiting room at the dentist. Trust me when I say that I can write a book on how Beyonce dropped 10lbs for the MET ball or how Adriana Lima got her pre-baby body back (boxing – I tried it. It ended badly).
But one of the most common weight loss ideologies that is often casually referenced in popular culture after being popularized by the famous Dr. Atkins, is that carbs are the enemy. I mean, if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard a woman politely decline a bread basket in a restaurant, I’d have £12.56 right now.
I’m not one to deprive myself of the things I enjoy. Heck, I don’t think I even could since I’m 96% sure that lack of willpower is hereditary in my family. But if I’ve learned anything, its that you can eat everything you want, as long as you do so in moderation. Carbs included. This is your cue to ask the garcon to bring back the breadsticks.
Vapiano, a wonderful Italian restaurant in the middle of Manchester (but with branches all over the UK) shares my ideals when it comes to carbs. In fact, their #EatPastaRunFaster campaign strongly promotes the fact that carbs are essential to your diet if you are exercising regularly. And that the right amount of carbs, mixed in with lean protein and vegetables will leave you feeling alive and energetic instead of bloated and sluggish.
With the help of dietician Dr. Sarah Schenker, Vapiano have come up with two meal plans (you can find them here) that incorporate carbs into your diet effectively. Designed especially for runners and those who exercise regularly, the meal plans provide just the right amount of carbohydrate to stop you feeling fatigued, but not enough to result in unwanted weight gain.
Both diet plans balance carbohydrate intake with plenty of protein and healthy fats: teaming delicious pasta dishes with vegetable packed breakfasts, soups, salads, and lighter evening meals, which tops up glycogen levels to keep those who exercise regularly performing at their best and feeling fit and energised.
My BFF, Nicola, and I have heard a lot about Vapiano recently. How all their pastas, pizzas and salads are cooked from scratch right in front of your very eyes, exactly the way you like them. We’re talking 100% custom, people. Which is why we went over one sunny Saturday for a girly lunch.
Now, Nicola and I both exercise fairly regularly. We both go to the gym and have a class we enjoy (I love Zumba while she loves trampolining) and we’re both always the first ones on and the last ones off the dance floor on a night out, which is why neither of us is particularly carb-shy.
We were led upstairs where the light was shining through a massive glass a sun-roof, ordered some drinks and had a glance at the menu. There were so many options to pick from, we weren’t quite sure what appealed to us most. In fact, Nicola chose a pasta off the menu, but was lured in by a picture of a scrumptious-looking beef pasta instead. I, however, stayed loyal to my pesto-based fusilli with prawns, spinach, herbs and a sprinkling of cheese for good measure.
We made our way from our sunny table and stood in short queues at live counters where Vapiano chefs created fresh pizzas, pastas and salads to your liking from scratch. We were first asked what portion size we wanted – small, medium or large. We both selected medium, but neither of us could finish our meals, so in retrospect, maybe a small size would have been a better option.
We were then asked what type of pasta we wanted as our base and were given the option to add or remove any of the original ingredients from the pasta we selected as was mentioned on the menu. I opted to ditch onions and cherry tomatoes and have to admit that it was a refreshing change to be able to ask to have things removed without any awkwardness or the worry of coming across as rude, like it is in most restaurants.
Both of our pastas were scrumptious and even though we couldn’t finish our meals, we left feeling satiated but not over-full and were still able to spend the rest of the day walking round the shops without feeling heavy or sluggish.
Even with cheese on my pasta and a very generous serving, I was happy to learn that I hadn’t gained any weight at my next Weight Watchers meeting, but had instead, lost a pound as I balanced my meal out with salad, protein, exercise and even a treat here and there.
What are your views on carbs as part of a healthy diet? Share them with me in the comments below. See you at the next post!