Lately, carbohydrates have been vilified in the media, and maybe you've stopped consuming them altogether. But there is such a thing as good carbs, and they’re worth a spot in your menu. We’ll tell you why.
Good carbs versus bad carbs. Or complex carbohydrates versus simple or refined carbohydrates. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set dietary guidelines that specify you should get between 45 percent and 65 percent of your calories from carbohydrates. And yet, there’s a trend out there that states that carbs are bad for your diet no matter what: that they cause obesity and type 2 diabetes.
It turns out that the reaction to carbs depends largely on the individual and his body. But if you are to eat carbs, better choose the complex ones, for the right dietary choice. We’ve already talked about the bad carbs, so here is a brief summary of what good carbs really are.
Which are the good carbs?
The good carbs can also be called whole carbs and they are unprocessed foods which contain fiber found naturally in the food. Refined or bad carbs have had the natural fibers stripped out of them. Vegetables, whole fruit, legumes, potatoes, and whole grains (like oats, barley, rye, quinoa, etc) are the good carbs that you already know are pretty healthy for you, generally.
And these food groups should not suffer and be expulsed from your diet just because of their refined counterparts. Whole foods are filled with nutrient and fiber and don’t make your blood sugar levels spike or dip or give you diabetes and heart disease. Eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains improves your metabolic health and lowers the risk of you getting sick.
Myth 1: Carbs make you obese
Restricting your carbs intake can sometimes partly reverse obesity. But... and it’s a big but, they are not the cause of it. Added sugars and refined carbs might make you obese, but fiber-rich whole foods make your body stronger.
People have been eating carbs for millennia, in some form or another. The obesity epidemic goes back as recent as 1980, followed by type-2 diabetes one. You can’t blame pretty new problems (on the grand scale of human history) on very old foods.
Myth 2: Your body can’t live without carbs
It is a myth that your brain needs 130 grams of carbs each day. If you don’t consume them, your brain uses ketones, made out of fats, for energy.
Your organism is pretty smart, so it can produce the glucose your brain needs through its own process, called gluconeogenesis.
Myth 3: Healthy foods don’t have carbs
Your body can function without carbohydrates, indeed, as your friend who is on a low-carb diet frequently reminds you. But they are still beneficial.
So which are the best and healthiest sources of carbs? All of the vegetables you can think of, whole fruits like apples, bananas, strawberries, legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and peas, all types of nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole grains like quinoa, pure oats or brown rice, also potatoes and sweet potatoes.
The optimal carb intake for you is not the same as your low-carb dieting friend’s. It depends on gender, age, metabolic health, level of physical activity and food culture. If you want to find out what it is, you should talk to a nutritionist.