Carbohydrates have been in question for quite some time. Are there “good carbs” vs “bad carbs”? This is a pretty loaded question because it depends on so many variables, mainly the person that is eating them! There is a lot of conflicting information available at anyone’s fingertips so we are going to share our perspective on carbohydrates and how we believe they fit into a well-rounded, healthy diet.
First and foremost, there is a MASSIVE difference between whole, non-processed carbohydrates and processed, refined carbohydrates and this is where people can safely call a carbohydrate “good” or “bad”. I don’t care who you are, how old you are, your health status, or your activity level, processed food of ANY kind IS. NOT. GOOD. FOR. YOU! When someone brings to my attention that they are afraid to eat rice or a potato out of fear of gaining weight, yet they have Doritos in their food log we have a problem 🙂
Whole, non-processed carbohydrates such as fruits, whole grains, sprouted grains, beans, legumes, and starchy tubers are GOOD carbohydrates! These types of carbohydrates support overall health due to their high fiber, vitamin, mineral and other phytonutrient content. They can improve overall health, digestion, energy, hormonal balance, and even your waistline! We say make these a staple part of your diet and adapt the amount and timing based on your personal goals.
Just like any food, portion control matters. You can still overeat “good” food and gain weight because your caloric intake exceeds your caloric expenditure. Carbohydrates are no different. We suggest using 1-2 cupped handfuls to measure your choice of the above carb options at each meal.
The more active you are, the more carbohydrates you need to fuel and recover your body. We recommend choosing higher fiber, slower digesting carbs if you are going to load them throughout the day to support your body. The less active you are, the less you need BUT you still need them. We recommend loading up on more veggies throughout the day to help maintain fullness and nutrient intake when other whole carbohydrate intake is less.
Speaking of vegetables, aren’t they considered carbohydrates? Yes they are, however they are on a spectrum when it comes to the amount and type of carbohydrates in vegetables. For MOST humans, it’s safe to think of vegetables as a separate macronutrient to portion out in your meals due to the IMMENSE health benefits from eating them! Your meals can have a portion of carbohydrate AND vegetables and you have not gone overboard! We recommend 1-2 fist size servings of vegetables at each meal.
What about fruits and their sugar content? There is information out there that fruit is bad for you. For people with medical issues like type 1 or 2 diabetes there is truth to that and fruit intake needs to be controlled. For MOST humans trying to improve their diet, replacing processed “frankenfoods” with fruit is a massive improvement and will do nothing but improve health.
Think about carbohydrates on a continuum worst to best. Instead of decreasing your carb intake in the name of health and weight loss, focus on choosing BETTER carb choices. What is just a little bit better than what you would normally choose to eat?! An example would be slicing and sautéing potatoes in a skillet to have with your lunch instead of having a side of potato chips. Learn how to bake your own sweet treats at home using higher fiber versions of flour instead of purchasing pre-made cupcakes from the store. When you are out at a restaurant choose the “best” possible option based on what is available to you.
A great way to determine which non-processed carbohydrates are healthy for you, pay attention to how you feel after eating them. Notice if you feel bloated, have digestive issues or low energy. If this is the case put it on your “do not eat” list. If you feel energized, focused, and have comfortable, healthy digestion put this on your “do eat” list. Everyone is different based on body type, hormonal status, health status, activity level, and personal goals.
If you are thinking about removing or changing the type of carbs you eat, know your “why”! Are you making a change because you want fat loss or muscle gain? Did a friend start eating keto and lost 75lbs and you want the same? No matter what your reason is, do your research to make sure you don’t drop your energy source without replacing it correctly with another one to help support and maintain your health. If you are still confused than hire us, we can help you sort through the endless information available and get you on the right track!