Bad vs. Good: What you need to know about the carbs you’re eating

bad vs good carbsTo carb, or not to carb: that is the question.  And the answer really is all of the above!  Often times, carbs get a bad rap (and some of them deserve it), but not all carbs are out to get you.  In fact, some are an important part of your diet.  Just like protein and fats, carbohydrates are crucial to a well balanced diet.

Most people associate breads and pastas with carbs, and they’re right.  But did you know carbs are just about everywhere, including in nuts, candy and even vegetables?  That’s why there are actually two types of carbs: complex (the good) and simple (the bad).

Complex Carbohydrates (the good carbs) are harder to digest, making our bodies work longer to fully process.  They’re usually found in a natural state, are high in fiber and nutrients and help you feel full for longer periods of time.  They also act as your body’s fuel, stimulating your metabolism and producing energy.

So where do we find these good carbs?  The best option is in fresh vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, carrots and zucchini.  Beans and lentils are another great source, as are whole grains and skim milk.  Thank goodness it’s green bean season…with kale just around the corner!

Simple Carbs (the bad carbs) are far from simple when it comes to your body.  Once ingested, the energy from the simple carbs is quickly stored as glycogen and, if not used immediately, becomes fat.  Bad carbs essentially have nothing natural to them, making them empty calories that lead to feeling tired.  Though some simple carbs are ok in moderation (did somebody say apple season?!), others are not.

So, have the apple and not the apple juice and the sweet potato instead of the baked.  Limit candy, soda and sugary cereals as well. It’s ironic that the things we find ourselves going to when in need of an energy boost end up being the things that makes us the most tired and lethargic.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae

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