“Carbs are bad”, “your body does not need carbs”, “eating carbs will cause weight gain”.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? In a world that is progressively becoming more health conscious, carbohydrates somehow got villainized by many “health” critics, leading to a misconception and fear of one of the most essential macronutrients available.
Over the years, many fad diets have demonized carbs and designed a “low-carb” diet (Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, Etc.) claiming that carbs are unnecessary, cause weight gain, and are overall detrimental to our health. Although the arguments sound compelling, they are filled with fallacies and used as a scare-tactic for everyday consumers to buy into their product.
Carbohydrates perform multiple functions in our bodies and come in a wide, healthful variety that makes it easy to consume a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Below are some of the essential functions, types, and sources of carbohydrates!
You know how your trucks prefer Diesel Fuel to run on? Well, our bodies have a preferred source of fuel too, do you know what it could be? You guessed…carbs!! Carbs are our brain’s preferred source of fuel. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar is the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs.1 Carbohydrates perform other functions such as preserving muscle, aiding digestion, and help prevent chronic disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Types of Carbohydrates:
There are three main types of carbohydrate –
- Sugar – Sugar is the most basic form of carbohydrate, also called simple carbohydrates.
- Starch – Starches are complex carbohydrates, meaning they are made up of multiple simple sugars strung together.
- Fiber – Fiber is a complex carbohydrate as well; it cannot be broken down by the body. Therefore, it helps aid in digestion and keeps you fuller longer!
Are any of these bad?
No! All form of carbohydrates provides our body with fuel and nutrients. However, it is important to note that some forms of carbohydrates provide more health benefits than others, and it is important to maintain a healthy balance of all carbohydrates
Sugar – Sugars are naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. All of which provide the body with fuel, and an array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Sugars can also be added to foods and beverages, these are the carbohydrates that you want to limit and enjoy in moderation, these include – juices, candies, sweet tea, and desserts.
Starches – Starches include breads, pasta, cereal, rice, oats, and more! These products offer essential nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. It is important to look for “whole-wheat” or “whole-grain” products and try to aim for making half of your grains whole. Whole grains have been shown to reduce implications from chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, some starches include vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas.
Fiber – Fiber is extremely beneficial because foods containing fiber come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Adding fiber into your diet can help digestive issues, lower blood cholesterol levels, and help maintain even blood sugars.
Carbs receive a bad rap, but they are essential for human functioning and provide us with energy and nutrients that help us live our healthiest, happiest life!
Carbohydrates. (2020, July 01). Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/carbohydrates.html