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Ej Ogenyi: Reducing the Carbs For a Trimmer Tummy?



IMG_4385 SmallCarbohydrates have found themselves on the hit list of many diets. One of the reasons is because there are scientific studies that back up the fact that a low-carbohydrate diet is an effective way to lose weight when compared to other diets in the first six months. But carbohydrates are not all bad for you. You’ve likely heard the terms “good carbs” and “bad carbs” thrown around and after learning what these are and how they influence your diet, you’ll understand that you don’t have to cut out carbohydrates if you don’t want to.

What are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are one of the macronutrients – major nutrients – that your body needs to keep you alive. It is also the preferred source of energy for your body because it’s broken down into glucose. Glucose is what your body uses for fuel on a day to day basis. Glucose is also the only form of energy that your brain uses, which makes it super important. Your body can transform the by-products of the digestion of other macronutrients into glucose, but it loves being efficient and carbohydrates are definitely an efficient to get this by-product.

What are “Good” Carbs?
The term good carbs is usually used to refer to whole grain and complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and nuts. These carbohydrates have been minimally processed, if at all, so that they take much longer for your body to digest. They get the word “good” put in front of them because:

They take longer to digest, which keeping you fuller longer
They don’t have a drastic effect on your blood sugar, which means that your hunger feels more manageable when it finally shows up. They are high in fiber, which plays a role in the slow digesting nature of these types of carbohydrate and can help you reduce your cholesterol. They contain vitamins and minerals that you normally won’t get from their refined counterparts. For example Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta contain folate which is particularly important for prenatal health and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A.

What are “Bad” Carbs?
Bad carbs are those that have been refined from their original state. Let’s take white rice for instance. It is processed to remove the two top layers of from the original brown rice; this means:

It tastes less chewy and takes on the flavor of the sauce that it’s cooked with.
It takes a quarter of the time as brown rice to cook.
And it doesn’t go rancid as fast because of the the oils that are contained in brown rice have been removed due to refinement.
But this processing comes at a cost. Most processing takes away the fiber which means that you have to eat significantly more white rice than brown rice to feel the same amount of fullness, and you don’t get the cholesterol-reducing benefits or digestive health benefits. Also, even though manufacturers try to fortify processed/refined grains by adding back some of the vitamins and minerals, you don’t get anything close to the original.

Now to your question about eating carbohydrates and flattening your tummy.

Why Would Cutting Down Carbs Seem Like a Good Diet Strategy?
If you take a close look at your diet, you’ll probably find that it’s dominated by carbohydrates. This is especially so for the typical Nigerian diet. Since weight loss happens when you eat fewer calories than your body needs, cutting down your primary source of calories will lead to weight loss.

Also, most low-carb diets involve cutting down on not just the obvious carbs like bread and rice, but even fruits, some vegetables, beans, and nuts are off limits at least for the initial phase and this limits the options of what you can eat. Limited options usually involves you eating less.

What Can You do If You Want to Keep Your Carbs and Still Lose Weight and Flatten Your Tummy in the Process?
If you love your carbs and still want to lose weight, don’t despair. Making smarter choices about the carbs you include in your diet can make all the difference. Remember successful dieting requires that you eat fewer calories than your body needs, and eating carbohydrates while still doing that is possible if you focus on eating whole grains and complex carbohydrates as described above. Bottom line eating quality foods will help you feel satisfied, get your carbs, and help you lose weight as far as you’re eating the appropriate portions.

If you’re not a fan of the brown rice and the whole wheat products, oatmeal is a fantastic and versatile whole grain that is easily accessible and can be adapted as part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a great low-calorie swallow option and a fantastic swap for white flour in your pancake recipes – click here for an oatmeal pancake recipe. Regardless of whether you choose to eat your carbohydrates or let them go, portion control is key, so focus on that and you’ll be set for success.

Now that you have the answer to this question, do you plan to change your attitude towards carbohydrates in your diet and how do you intend on doing so?

EJ (Ejiro) is a writer/engineer/mom. She writes about healthy living to help busy professional women lose weight, keep it off—and actually feel amazing. She created a Registered Trademarked System (VAFs®) for healthy eating for weight loss and wrote the book Weight Loss for High Achievers to help busy women lose weight and let go of the idea that the only way to succeed is to diet for the rest of their lives. With EJ's methods, dieting isn't required and neither is spending hours in the gym for meager results. P.S. If you want to get the goal-crushing motivation to reach your weight loss goal, then you'll want to get the first chapter of EJ's book for FREE. Click here to get it now.


  1. Beeeee

    April 15, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Oatmeal Pancakes? Wow, definitely trying that this weekend… #ilovepancakes

    • Anon

      April 15, 2015 at 9:01 am

      As a pancake lover I had to switch from wheat flour to oatmeal to avoid the extra weight. Not as fluffy but still good. Plus I can’t eat porridge and the oatmeal pancake option is another way of “ingesting” oats. Another alternative is to use buckwheat for pancakes.

    • Beeeee

      April 15, 2015 at 9:42 am

      I am not too crazy about fluff but as long as you say it’s good, then i’m gonna try it. I can blend regular oats in my dry blender to turn it to flour right?

    • Tachy

      April 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Use blender for your mixing, it comes out super fluffy

    • MIA

      April 15, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Very lovely.. That’s my cheat meal.

  2. Emma

    April 15, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Thanks EJ.


    April 15, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I replaced white rice with brown rice and white bread with wheat bread. Replaced poundo with oatmeal and when I’m out of oatmeal I do wheat. I cut out Palm oil, cut down on vegetable oil, and seriously reduced my portions. In just one week I noticed changes and in two months I’ve lost almost 15kg (no workouts btw but I hope to start soon). I noticed that the reason for the success of this diet (because I’ve done the no-carb/low-carb thingy before), is portion control. Regardless of what you eat, really cutting the portion helps a lot.

    But let me tell you what most people don’t, healthy/clean eating is a lot more expensive than eating as you’re used to.. The healthier alternatives are more expensive than the usual options. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about this please? While you’re encouraging people to eat brown rice and oatmeal or quinoa, also inform them to ensure that they set more money aside for feeding, otherwise they may become frustrated and go back to their old (unhealthy) eating habits..

    • Dami

      April 15, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Hey please where can i get quinoa from in Lagos

    • Eniola/ Ms Catwalq

      April 15, 2015 at 10:49 pm

      BG Stores, Goodies, Oasis (Ikeja/GRA/Maryland) and any of those Lebanese owned stores

    • mrs chidukane

      April 15, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Wow, nice one Thelma. Articles like this annoy me because they tell you a lot without telling you anything. I gained more from your comment than from the article. Cheers!

  4. Nnomsie

    April 15, 2015 at 11:18 am

    @Beeeee, yes you can use the dry blender to convert the oats into powder form, you can also make it like u will make semovita/wheat etc for swallow in combination with soups

    • Beeeee

      April 15, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Oh wow, really….great to know….cos i love to swallow as well #coveringeyes….now i can swallow with my banga soup without feeling guilty #dancing

    • Anon

      April 15, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Yes, you can blend it dry or even as a liquid once you are sure of the consistency. Oats, again is the best thing to use when eating soup. Healthy, but not great in taste. The soup masks the taste.

  5. tunmi

    April 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    But what happens after the first 6 months? How does the low-carb diet compare to other diets after the first six months?

  6. Sarah

    April 15, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I never thought of oatmeal pancakes. I eat my rolled oat porridge most mornings so i will try the pancakes. A healthier option for me. Plus I will share with my friend as she’s following a great eating plan you can see her thoughts here .

    Will passing this article to my friends.

  7. D

    April 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I actually had to do a study in school on the then Atkins diet which was a no carb diet at the time and i can say for a fact there is nothing clean about no carb diets. You body needs all classes of food to function at its optimum and so cutting out any class of food is not clean. That’s why those that do the no carb diets fluctuate a lot in weight because once you get back on the carb wagon it starts coming back. I recently decided to take my health seriously, starving because people are quick to tell you what you should not eat but not tell you what you can eat because like the author said no carb means you have cut almost every thing out of your diet, i.e you have to starve to lose weight. Clean eating is not about starving, it is about knowing what goes on your plate and being aware of what you use up such calories. I realised how very heavy in carb my diet was, i.e bread and egg for breakfast, rice and stew for lunch or pasta and the swallow or beans or yam for dinner that is very very dense in carb in take. I have since cut back, I may take fruits and yogurt for breakfast or an egg, for lunch a good grilled steak or fish with some carrots and then 1/2 cup (and yes i measure) of White rice (totally hate brown rice) with lots of spinach and meat (never fried) or 1 1/2 thin slices of yam and eggs for dinner at 6pm. I am trying to eat heaviest in the morning but that has not been easy due to work, i would personally like to eat my rice and yam in the morning but hey doing the best i can. I recently started working out as well. Cardio and recently realised weight lifting is actually very helpful in losing weight because where you stop burning calories after your work out with Cardio, with weight lifting your muscles keep burning even after working out. I still use palm oil, olive oil and coconut oil because based on my research so far i have found out those are actually good oils no canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil in my kitchen. I am trying to find what works for me and based on my likes and dislikes and doing due diligence in reading up on what goes into my mouth before i eat. I am thinking of trying Quinoa and seeing how i feel about it. Chai seed is another one i am planning trying as well. In addition i have cut back on regular milk and slowly replacing it with almond milk that one is still a struggle anyhow cos almond milk well it is almond milk….

    • iyke

      April 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      This right here is the right attitude of someone who wants to succeed.And so shall you hun.
      Go lift those damn weights sweetie….engage in more compound trainings like squat and deadlift…easiest way to loose weight and tone up
      I admire ladies that lift!.


    • Kerry

      April 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Chia seeds are very good. Add them to your smoothies, oatmeal or greek yogurt. Excellent source of protein

    • Lara

      April 15, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      I had this issue as well then I found the coffee mate creamer with zero fat. It works for me. All I have to do is mix it with water and heat it up in the microwave and u have milk kind off. I use it for everything now even cereal. I like my cereal hot tho.

    • lade

      April 16, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Why not try soya milk? In lagos super markets you’ll get chi soya milk. I use for my cereal, oats and whenever I take tea…. it’s nice.

  8. soph

    April 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I still eat my carbs, white rice and all however I find the time to exercise for an hour and a half Monday to Friday and keep my calorie intake at 1600 at the most. I’ll start adding smoothies cos it’s usually filling.
    PS is it possible to make smoothies without blending the fruits?

  9. meee

    April 15, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    please ohh people, how do i shed tummy fat without having to lose weight????? urgent answers needed asap. i’m a young lady of 25, never been pregnant but i have a big tummy compared to my body size considering the fact that i weigh just 54kg…

    • Denni Pierre

      April 16, 2015 at 8:18 am


      Switching to a not-terribly-strict paleo diet has changed my life (and my weight). I have so much more energy and feel so clear-headed that it’s really like a whole new world. If you’re on the fence, I recommend getting Paleoleap’s book along with the 8 week meal plan and see for yourself the difference it makes in your life. (For your ref.: )

      All the best to you,


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