Carbohydrates have been given a bad press for far too long and are on the taboo list of most fad diets today. Carbs are the main energy source for the body and are essential for maintaining optimum health. Leaving out such an important macronutrient from daily food intake is not the answer to losing weight or achieving a lean physique. When you restrict carbohydrates from your diet, you are likely to experience side-effects as your body tries to make up for the sudden lack of fuel. Side effects of carb restriction can include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, weakness, and depression along with more serious health risks. What it truly comes down to is our ability to know the difference between good vs. bad carbs and eliminate those that do not support a healthy lifestyle.
What’s the Difference Between a Good and Bad Carb?
What is the difference between a good and bad carbohydrate? Not all carbs are created equal and learning how to select healthy carbs is really quite simple. Think back to your grandmother’s era or the farmers of old that grew all things from the ground, harvested and brought the produce to the table for the family to enjoy. The basic idea is that good carbs are those that come out of the earth and not from a box! Eating corn from the husk versus corn flakes, a peeled orange over processed juice, a baked potato instead of a bag of chips/crisps or French fries would be great examples of choosing a good carb over a bad carb. A carbohydrate that is not processed or refined is better for you and your waistline and packed full of nutrients that benefit the body. Choosing brown rice over white, whole grain or wheat flour over white flour are other good carb selections.
Steer Clear of Bad Carbs
Steer clear of fake carbohydrates. These are the bad and the ugly of the carb world and support an unhealthy lifestyle if eaten regularly. Bad carbs are the overly processed, nutrient stripped fake food products that line most of our supermarket shelves today. They are recognised by the fancy packaging and marketing tags that say low fat, sugar free, fat free, enriched, low calorie, sugar added, liquid removed and found in boxes, bags, and wrappers. The labels that represent fake or bad carbs are endless and unfortunately, bad carbs have hit the scene disguised as healthy products. It is important that we become well educated in recognizing a bad carb and eliminating them as much as possible from our daily food intake. If you are unable to understand what is on the ingredient list, it is a high possibility that you are viewing a bad carb item. The fewer ingredients to a packaged food item the better, and if they are understood and with a short shelf life then that would be a healthier buy. The best carbs will come in whole food form, typically not in a package, and include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
- Low to moderate calories: We can eat filling amounts and satisfy our hunger without worry about going overboard on calories. “No one ever got fat eating kale.”
- Nutrient values: Enormous variety that provide essential health benefits
- No refined sugars or refined grains
- High fiber content: Naturally occurring and shown to regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, reduce bad cholesterol, assist in weight loss, maintain optimal digestive system, and many more health benefits.
- Low in sodium
- Fats: Low in saturated fat, very low to no cholesterol, and no Trans fats
Bad Carbs (fake food):
- High in calories for a small portion
- High in refined sugars: Refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup studies have shown to make up more than 20% of the calories we eat each day. Refined sugars are linked to disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. White sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and added sugars are examples
- High in refined grains: White flour is stripped wheat made to look like white, no nutrient value
- Nutrient value: zero to minimal
- Fiber: zero to minimal
- Sodium: High
- Fats: High
- Cholesterol: High
- Trans fats: High
Based on the good to bad carb comparison above it is easy to see how eating good carbs daily can lead to a lean body and overall good health. On the contrary, consuming bad carbs like white bread, chips/crisps, packaged donuts and fast foods will not only lead to unwanted weight gain but also diseases caused by eating these types of fake foods.
So in Summary when shopping stay in the fresh fruit and vegetable section of the supermarket and get your good carbs from fresh, natural sources.
Nerseh – Personal Trainer – Nd Personal Training