Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Why Carbohydrates Should Matter to You
The right type of carbohydrates can boost your health while the wrong can lead to sickness and disease.
What’s the difference between a sandwich made on white bread and one made with 100% whole grain bread?
Or, the difference between French fries and side salad made with spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and kidney beans?
They are all carbohydrates. However, the second option in both questions includes healthy carbohydrate foods (whole grains and vegetables).
Are Carbohydrates Good or Bad?
In the past several years the reputation of carbohydrates has swung wildly. Carbs have been touted as the feared food in many fad diets. And some carbs have also been promoted as a healthful nutrient associated with lower risk of chronic disease.
So which is it? Are carbs good or bad? The short answer is that they are both.
Fortunately, it is actually quite easy to separate the good from the bad.
We can reap the health benefits of good carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs get absorbed slowly into our systems (low glycemic), minimizing spikes in blood sugar levels. They provide a great source of steady energy and help us to feel full for longer periods of time. Examples: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: Americans are eating more sugar than ever before. Refined carbohydrates, sugar, white breads, white rice, chips, crackers, cookies, etc…, all lead to rapids spikes in blood sugar causing symptoms such as cravings, over eating, fatigue and often leading to obesity and its related diseases. Unfortunately, these refined carbohydrates are the predominant macronutrient that fuels most Americans diets and represents over 50 percent of their daily caloric intake. Sugars and refined grains and starches supply quick energy to the body in the form of glucose. That’s a good thing if your body needs quick energy, for example if you’re running a race or competing in sports. The problem is that most Americans are consuming them when they don’t need the quick energy.
Why Fiber in Carbs is so important
Fiber is the part in plant foods that humans can’t digest. Even though fiber isn’t absorbed, it does all sorts of great stuff for our bodies.
Fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.
· This slowing down may help prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.
· Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits can also help lower blood cholesterol.
· As an added plus, fiber helps people feel full, adding to satiety.
· Fiber is also very important to help clean out your guts and keep your bowel movements regular.
Gettingt some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips:
· Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.
· Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.
· Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).
Health benefits associated with limiting carbs
While many can't imagine going without bread, pasta, potatoes, and pastries, there are actually many health benefits to limiting carbohydrate consumption.
As you begin, cutting out carbohydrates could make you feel worse before it makes you feel better, but these effects are short-lived. When consume a significant amount of carbohydrates, your body was burns the sugar obtained from these carbohydrates as its main source of energy. If you restrict carbohydrates, your body needs to switch to an alternative metabolic pathway of using fat instead. While your body adapts, which can take a few days to up to a few weeks, your energy levels can be affected. You can feel tired, lethargic, sluggish, have headaches, be irritable and even constipated. These side effects alleviate by themselves, but you can help your body transition to your lower carb intake by drinking plenty of water and upping your fat intake
Not eating carbohydratess, or eating fewer carbohydrates, can help you lose fat. By eating fewer carbohydrates, your body becomes more efficient at burning fat instead of sugar, which can prevent fat gain and promote fat loss.
Following a carbohydrate-restricted diet may improve your blood lipid profile and cardiovascular risk factors. The Nutrition & Metabolism Society, an independent, nonprofit health organization, reports that carbohydrate-restricted diets lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholestrol levels, decrease blood pressure and lower inflammation, even if the diets contain two to three times the amount of fat typically consumed on the standard American diet.