Ah Carbs! The pleasure trigger of the taste buds and the bain of all the empty calories we consume.
Carbohydrates get a bad reputation as being the worst thing to enter our dietary lives–EVER!
But as with most things the majority of people are getting this wrong. This is mostly because they are not doing the research themselves because they are relying on all the sound bytes they hear…
And while I am just another sound byte–I have at least done my homework.
Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our nutritional plan. It is where we get our energy so we can, you know, do stuff.
If we were not getting energy from our food we would feel deflated and tired–all the time–and you would quite literally be unable to function.
If you are trying to lose weight many diets encourage you to cut out carbohydrates–completely.
Many people grab onto that advice and cut out all carbs! This does lead to weight loss but very often that weight loss is too much, too fast, can be very dangerous and is not sustainable.
Those diets fail–or I should say the people on those diets fail to reach their goals because they cannot follow the program long term as a lifestyle…I’ll discuss that next time.
Back to carbohydrates–we cannot survive without carbohydrates in our system everyday and this is why:
Carbs come in 3 main categories:
- Sugars or simple sugars like glucose, fructose etc. that are basically already broken down for us. These go into our system, give us a little zip of energy and then fizzle out quickly. Because they are simple it takes a lot of them to make us feel “full” or “satisfied” so we eat a lot of them.
- Starches are more complex sugars that need to be broken down by our digestive system to create the glucose our bodies need for energy. So these carbohydrates take longer to break down and give us a slow burn of energy.
- Fiber. Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the body but is needed to aid digestion and to give us a happy gut and happy bathroom experiences. This, as you know, is super important!
When we eat too many carbs, the body can store some of them for future energy and turns them into fat. Not good.
In a nutshell–we need to eat carbohydrates that are complex and whole to provide us with that slow burn and with fiber. Processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in everything else are just empty calories that do not serve us!
The amount of carbohydrates that we need depends on the number of calories you need per day to reach your nutritional goals. I discuss that in a previous post called The Big Mac.
The best carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole fruits, potatoes, legumes and whole grains. It is important though to remember to watch the serving sizes and the preparation of these foods so that we don’t change a good carbohydrate into a fattening dish.
We also don’t want to eat so much of a good thing that we turn it into a bad thing by overloading our bodies with too much sugar–even from whole foods–that is needed in a day.
For people who are currently battling obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease a low carb diet can be life changing. And I think–especially given our current society–that this is important to mention.
And while a low carb diet may come to your rescue–we need to include the proper water intake, exercise and a host of other changes to our habits as a permanent life change for our rescue to be sustainable.
Remember that carbohydrates did not cause our obesity and a host of other health problems. Our ancestors ate all kinds of carbs and were healthy–and thin!
Our ancestors, though, ate whole foods–not processed foods! And there is a way to include whole foods and the science of convenience in processed foods to help us achieve both nutritional values and health objectives!!
While I am still digging for the answers–remember to take everything you know and understand to be true with a grain of salt. Do some discovering of yourself and what works best for your body–because no two bodies are alike!
Reach out with a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and questions!