I hear people all the time saying that carbs are bad for you and the way to lose weight is to do a low carb diet, but this IS NOT TRUE !

 

Before I explain why, let’s talk about what exactly carbs are and what they do for your body. Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients your body needs, called macronutrients (There are three macros: carbs, protein, and fat). Carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy. Some of our cells (like our brain and red blood cells) can ONLY use carbohydrates for energy. Because of their vital role, most of our daily calories should come from carbohydrates. But, the exact amount you personally need varies anywhere between 45 and 65% of total Calories, depending on your individual health and fitness needs.

 

So, carbs are part of an overall healthy diet. But not all carbs are created equal, so it’s important to learn which you should be eating.

 

Carbohydrates can be classified into two general categories based on their chemical structure: simple carbohydrates (or sugars) and complex carbohydrates (or starches).

 

1. Simple carbohydrates (sugar)

Much of the sugar Americans consume comes from what is added to processed foods (such as cookies, cakes, muffins, ice cream, candies, breakfast cereals, sports bars, and especially sodas). The most common form of added sugar is plain white table sugar (or sucrose). Other sugars that are added to foods include molasses, honey, high fructose corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. Read labels to identify these sources.

Sugar is also naturally occurring in some foods. For example, fruit has fruit sugar (called fructose), and milk has milk sugar (called lactose). Just because these foods are high in sugar doesn't make them "bad" foods. On the contrary, these foods are loaded with important vitamins and minerals, and they are relatively low in Calories. It's only when sugar is concentrated or extracted from natural sources and then added to nutrient-poor processed foods (like the foods mentioned above) that sugar can become a problem.

 

2. Complex carbohydrates (starch)

Complex carbohydrates are in foods such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, tortillas, crackers, pretzels, beans, and starchy vegetables (like potatoes, peas, corn, and yams). Because whole pieces of fruit have fiber (unlike fruit juices or fruit juice concentrate sweeteners), they too can be considered complex carbohydrates.

 

Much of the complex carbohydrate Americans consume comes from refined and processed products (such as white breads, white rice, white pasta, and white instant potatoes or French fries). The refinement of these foods takes away many of their nutrients and fiber and leaves just a white starchy final product. These foods are “enriched,” but only with five nutrients (four B vitamins and iron). All the other nutrients are forever lost.

 

Foods in their whole form such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, whole grain cereals, bulgur, quinoa, some pastas and starchy vegetables such as acorn squash, corn, and pumpkin retain all of their nutrients and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed and digested by the body more slowly, which will keep you satisfied longer.

 

So don’t cut carbs out of  your diet, just focus on eating carbs in their whole form as part of a healthy diet.



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