It certainly seems as though most people have strong opinions about carbohydrates. One person will tell you their weight loss plan was successful because they ate zero carbs, while another tells you carbs are fine and not to worry about them. So what’s the truth?
The main thing to understand is that there are two types of carbohydrates. Simple carbs break down in your digestive system and are absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. Refined white flour and sugar are examples of simple carbs. As we know, these types of foods typically don’t contain many beneficial nutrients. However, fruits and some vegetables also contain simple carbs, along with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Complex carbs break down much more slowly, and are released more evenly into your bloodstream. Whole grain products, beans, and rice are examples of foods high in complex carbs. These foods also contain a lot of fiber, which is beneficial to digestion, and other important nutrients.
The problem with simple carbohydrates is that they contribute to quick spikes in your blood sugar, but then typically result in a crash afterward. This can lead to cravings for more sugary foods, and in some people can contribute to insulin resistance over time (which can lead to diabetes). On the other hand, carb-heavy foods can certainly contain valuable nutrients, and avoiding them altogether can lead to an unbalanced diet.
So how do you consume carbohydrates, but healthfully? Focus on complex carbs, like whole grains, beans, brown rice, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Minimize your consumption of “white” options, like white bread and white rice, which have had most nutrients stripped from them. And, of course, we all know that sugar-heavy desserts are packed with calories and not much nutrition.
The bottom line is that you can eat carbs, but it’s important to consume them from healthy food sources. And of course, all foods contain calories, so if you’re following a weight loss plan you should be aware of those, too.
For more information on a healthy diet or weight loss plan, give us a call. We can help you decide how many carbs you should be eating, and from which foods you should be getting most of your nutrition.