It has become widespread knowledge: carbs are bad for you. But how much truth is there in that statement? And are all carbs bad carbohydrates? We dig into that right now.
What’s the difference between a sandwich made with white bread and one with whole grain bread? And why should you try and let go of that tempting serving of French fries and indulge instead on some red beans and some other veggies? It’s the difference between bad carbohydrates and good ones.
Today we will talk about the ones you need to stay away from no matter what. Bad carbohydrates, more formally known as simple carbohydrates are the ones that are refined or processed in any way.
Which are the bad carbohydrates?
When we talk about bad or refined carbohydrates, we are talking about sugars, “added” sugars and refined “white grains.” We're living in a dangerous time when Americans are eating more sugar than ever before. According to USDA’s recent nationwide food consumption survey, the average adult takes in about 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day.
Put simply, that’s about 320 calories, a hefty dose by anyone’s standards. So much sugar and so many calories can only lead to gaining a lot of unwanted extra pounds.
Sugars and refined grains and starches are a quick but temporary fix for the body’s need for energy, in the form of glucose. This works fine if you need that, like when you run a race or have sustained physical effort in a short amount of time.
Added sugars supply calories, but they have a close to 0 nutritional value. They are also known as caloric sweeteners. When we say added sugars, we are thinking mostly about sugars, and syrups added to foods at the table or during the processing or preparation. The most common is high fructose corn syrup, found in sweetened drinks and baked goods.
“Americans are very aware of low-fat diets, and because of that we’ve been eating more fat-free and low-fat products,” said Shanthy Bowman, a food scientist for the USDA and author of an extensive study on sugar, published in The American Diet.
But in fact, says Bowman, people have been substituting fat with sugar and the tradeoff is not worth it.
So, if you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you need to cut down on your sugar intake. The USDA recommends that you get no more than 6-10% of your total calories from added sugar. This means about nine teaspoons a day. If you need help with reducing your sugar by more than half, here are a few tips to get you started.