Ever since the Atkins diet, and probably long before, even, we’ve been bombarded with information from all angles about carbohydrates, lovingly referred to as “carbs”. We hear all sorts of nasty things about them….and then there are those times when we hear about how good and essential carbs are, too. It’s all grossly confusing.
So what is the truth about carbs? Are they good, bad, or indifferent? Are carbohydrates good for us or not? Hopefully here we’ll sort it out.
The Facts about Carbohydrates, Good and Bad
Basically put, there are both good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates. Furthermore, our bodies need carbohydrates to survive and function well. So no, carbohydrates in and of themselves are not “bad”, but you certainly can be choosing carbs that are essentially empty and which do you little dietary good. The important thing is to know what kinds of carbs you should be intaking, and to choose foods that have good carbohydrates in them.
Healthy carbohydrates serve an important purpose in the body. They provide us with energy and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, keeping them at a steady level rate in the body and blood stream. Good healthy carbohydrates take longer for us to digest, which also helps us to maintain weight by keeping us feeling full for longer, reducing incidences of hunger and gorging.
Unhealthy carbohydrates to about exactly the opposite – they digest quickly, making us want to eat more and more often; they cause blood sugar levels and insulin levels to be erratic, causing peaks and crashes which leave us feeling poorly and moody, often, too. They cause energy levels to crash along with them.
Where to Find Good Carbs and Bad
Now that you understand the basics and the “why” of good versus bad carbohydrates, the next step is to know where each are found, so that you know what to choose and what to avoid.
Good carbohydrates can be found in the following foods, and foods that include these products:
Whole grains (whole wheat and barley, brown rice, millet)Beans
Fruits and vegetables
Bad carbohydrates are typically refined versions of healthy carbs. We find bad carbs easily in:
Products made with white flours and refined grains including many breads (white breads especially), pasta, many cereals (unless they are whole-grain cereals)
A good rule of thumb is that the more processing and the further away from its natural state a product or food is, the worse it is for you. Armed with this information and this simple rule, you’ll find it much easier to make good choices quickly, and much easier to incorporate these healthy-eating tips into your daily diet.