Carbs have gotten a bad rap lately. Are they good for you or not? Will they make you fat or help you lose weight? Confused? We thought so.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Carbs are basically sugar molecules that are linked together. Simple carbs are made of one or two sugar molecules linked together (think sugar, fruit, dairy). Complex carbs include everything made of three or more linked sugars (starchy foods). Enough science for one day.
What you need to understand is that carbs are important because they provide your body with fuel (energy) it needs for physical activity. Also important to know – Glucose is your brain’s preferred source of fuel. So, the whole low-carb, no carb diet is not good for your brain or body.
More important than distinguishing between simple and complex carbs is the notion of refined and unrefined carbs.
- Refined Carbohydrates- Think WHITE: white bread, white pasta, white rice – stripped of their fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Unrefined carbohydrates – whole grains and whole grain products. Look at the label – does it say “whole” before the actual grain? If not, put it back, even if it looks brown. Food manufacturers will fool you into thinking something is a whole grain by adding caramel coloring to white bread, turning it the same brown color as true whole grain bread.
WHERE DO I FIND THEM?
The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Real food. From the earth. That’s how nature intended us to eat them. Untouched, unprocessed. Full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
This is a tricky question and depends on your metabolic type, your age, your body composition, and your activity level. Everyone should aim for at least 40% of their total calories to come from carbs, but for very active people, and for fast burners, their total carb intake can be much higher.
Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils.
Try whole fruit instead of juice
Substitute brown rice or quinoa for white rice
Use amaranth instead of cream of wheat cereal
Steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal