Many people nowadays see all carbs as being bad. With various lifestyle gurus and followers of the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets highlighting the perils of carbs, you could be forgiven for buying into the belief ‘all carbs are evil’. When the simple truth is, carbs are not all evil and can be part of a healthy and balanced diet.
The problem comes when people all carbs together. Not all carbs are the same and act differently within your body. If your aim, therefore, is to cut out carbs from your diet,
With that in mind then, if your aim is to eliminate carbs from your diet, just on the basis they are bad, you need to stop and think about what carbs really are and what they do.
That’s why we are going to help you understand carbs better with facts, so you know whether the carbs you are eating are good for you or bad for you.
Gaining a Better Understanding About Carbs
Carbs are our bodies’ main source of fuel which are found in a wide variety of food. Many of us think of things like pasta and bread, when really carbs are present in the following:
- Sugary foods
When you look at the above list, it’s clear not all carbs are as bad as you may think. That is why it is crucial to understand how different carbs are classified how they function in the body, to help you make better choices about what you include in your diet.
There are two forms of carbs, simple and complex. These are then divided into three components:
Sugar is only found in simple carbs, while fiber and starch are found in complex carbs.
Simple carbohydrates are basic sugars provide very little nutritional value to your body. These are often found in those things you crave like, milk duds, donuts and candy bars.
The following are sugars found in simple carbs:
- Glucose – Often known as blood sugar and can be found in most plant foods.
- Lactose – Referred to as milk sugar, as it’s the main carb found in milk.
- Maltose – As the name suggests, its malt sugar and you will find it in grains
- Fructose – Found in saps, fruits and other plants
- Sucrose – Cane sugar or table sugar, it also is found in a variety of vegetables and lots of fruits
It may be surprising to learn fruit and veg are simple carbs featuring basic sugars. However, they stand out as being different from many other simple carbs. They also contain fiber that alters the way your body uses the sugars making them like complex carbs.
The funny thing is we think we want to eat those extra 10 donuts because we love the taste, when really our brains are hotwired to find carbs and know donuts have them in plentiful supply and are therefore a great energy source.
- Immediate Energy – When simple carbs are absorbed into your bloodstream, your cells use them for immediate energy. Glucose powers the brain and muscles when you are in anaerobic conditions or there is a lack of oxygen. Imagine, running up a hill and you feel a bit light-headed. When the body needs glucose.
- Stored Energy – Simple carbs are also able to give your body stored energy. When you eat too many simple carbs, your body’s cells will convert them into glycogens and then store them in your fat, muscles and liver. That sounds all fancy, but the point is – it’s best to avoid your body storing too much of that sugar. That is why it is more important, in some ways, to concentrate on what you put into your body, rather than the kind of exercise you do. No amount of exercise will help you shift excess weight if you are just converting carbs and storing them as far.
Therefore, it is best to start cutting down or out on simple carbs if you want to be fitter and slimmer.
Simple carbs to be aware of includes:
- Desserts and pastries
- White pasta, bread and rice
- Artificial syrups
Enjoy simple carbs occasionally but avoid making them your main source of carbs.
Complex carbs are plant-based foods containing lots of minerals, vitamins and fiber. When those are taken into the body, they are broken down into glucose for fuel and stored as glycogen. And when you have enough of both, your body will function properly. When looking at complex carbs, you need to also consider starchy and fibrous carbs.
These contain a variety of nutrients and are a good energy source, also contain B vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber. Although there is some crossover between fibrous and starchy carbs, some are more fibrous than starchy. Potatoes, lima beans, corn and starchy veg, along with black-eyed peas, kidney beans and other legumes and rice, barley and oats are all food high in starch.
What are known as fibrous carbs are found in plant foods, we are not able to digest. This helps our bodies, because fiber slows down our nutrient absorption and maintains our blood sugars, while keeping our bowels regular and LDL cholesterol levels lower.
To put it a more direct way, we need fibrous carbs to go to the toilet. It can be hard to get these into our diet. The most popular sources of fiber are:
- Whole grains
- Fruit and veg
- Legumes and beans
Complex carbs are vitally important to maintaining good health and weight over time. So, always look out for them when you’re at the grocery store.
When you are tracking your carbs, you need to consider the total carbs, sugars, dietary fiber and other carbs.
- Total Carbs – Even if there’s no total…look for the Other Carbs grams, Sugars grams and Fiber grams and add them together.
- Sugars – these are the amount of carbs taken from sugars, include ng fructose, lactose and added varieties like HFCS.
- Dietary Fibers – the total of fiber in each serving, the amount of carbs consumed that aren’t absorbed.
- Other Carbs – These are digestible carbs you eat and exclude added and natural sugars.
It’s crucial you note that you need carbs, regardless of your weight loss and fitness goals. Complex carbs are essential, especially if you are working out. Without them and your body will break your muscle tissue down.