Carbs have taken something of a battering in recent years. The success of diets like The Paleo, Atkins and Dukan put protein in the spotlight as a force for good. And recent research into fat suggested that it wasn't as bad as we'd been told all along.
Which has left carbs as the scapegoat food group of choice for anyone hoping to lose a bit of weight.
Of course, as I've realised since embarking on our Amateur To Athlete 10 week program dramatically cutting down – or out – carbs simply isn't ever going to be sustainable, either as a healthy or indeed practical way to live. Most of the short-term weight loss is water for a start, and most of the people who 'swear' by this approach are people who need to be on a diet in the first place.
So what's the healthy approach? And what do slim people do that the rest of us don't?
The first point to bear in mind is the type of carbs you eat.
Unrefined (brown), low glycaemic index (slow release) carbs are the best and these are the ones to stock your cupboards with: oats, brown rice (rice cakes), unrefined grains (brown bread, wholemeal wraps), quinoa, couscous, sweet potato, parsnips, butternut squash.
As a rule for health and weight loss, lower glycaemic index carbs are the ones to pick for three reasons: they are broken down more slowly; they are available for use as an energy source for a longer period; they cause less `distress` to the digestive system as a lower insulin response is delivered, therefore maintaining a stable metabolism and reducing `energy swings`.
But the second less frequently mentioned consideration is when you eat your carbs.
"As a general rule of thumb, the majority of carbohydrate intake should be taken at breakfast, " says personal trainer Pete Fraser, "through the morning and reduced up to mid-afternoon, say 3 or 4 pm, then tapered off and omitted for the evening meal."
And it's this idea of regularly eating an evening meal of protein and veg with no carbohydrate that could have the most dramatic effect on your waistline.
"The idea behind this pattern is that the loading during the day will provide for energy needs through the more intense activities of the day when physical activity levels will be greatest," explains Fraser. "The lowering of carb calories through the evening will coincide with the lowering of activity levels. If this rule is not applied unused carb calories will be stored as fat when not used for activity."
If cutting out carbs in the evening after a tough day at work sounds impossible, it isn't. It's just a habit. And one that plenty of slim people have been doing for years.