Carbs… a very controversial topic these days; what are good carbs? What are bad carbs? Why in the heck is everyone so scared of carbs? Well I think it’s best to go back to basics on this one. Carbohydrates (carbs) are an essential energy source, necessary for good health. Once we’ve eaten carbs our body converts them into glycogen (sugar), which supplies us with the energy our bodies need to function properly. One of the biggest problems in today’s society is that a variety of good carbs have been labeled as bad carbs, which sets you up for reduced energy and nutrient deficiencies. In this article we are going to discuss what the good carbs are, what the bad carbs are and what are the real differences. So buckle up ladies and let’s gain some knowledge.
Carbs come in three main types, sugars, starches and fiber and they are labeled either simple or complex based upon their chemical makeup and what our bodies do with them. Simple carbs are basic sugars that are easy-to-digest and are an important source of energy. These are found naturally in fruit and milk, while refined sugars are often added to candies, baked goods and soft drinks. Complex carbs are found in whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables. Complex carbs contain longer chains of sugar molecules and take longer for the body to break them down, which provides the body with a more consistent amount of energy.
As you have probably guessed by now, the best carbs come from natural sources and are nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits. The good carbs you should be including in your diet consist of vegetables (eating a variety every day), whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and barley, nuts and seeds, whole fruits, beans and legumes and tubers such as sweet potatoes or potatoes (yes, I just said normal potatoes… they are not the devil people).
The bad carbs you need to be avoiding are those lacking in nutrient value and are overly processed. You also need to be mindful of the food labels promising low fat, sugar-free, fat-free, low calories or no sugar added. These are still bad carbs but are being disguised as healthy products. Reducing or eliminating processed carbs such as white bread, pastries and soda are a great start in avoiding bad carbs. Other products to avoid include juices as they are mostly filled with added sugar and preservatives, ice cream, pasta, beer, candy, milk chocolate.
Everyone is so hyped about creating healthier alternatives that healthy, good carbs such as a normal potato are put in the same category as a Big Mac. If you are turning your potato into deep fried chips or loading them up to make jacket potatoes then yes, this isn’t the good carbs we are talking about. However if you want some air fried potatoes with your salmon and green beans you go right for it!