The Truth About Carbs
In the weight loss world, carbohydrates have upheld a bad reputation. Diets like the Atkins diet have left people confused about carbohydrates and their importance to our health, including maintaining a healthy weight.
What are carbohydrates?
- Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in food. The other two are protein and fat.
- There are three different types of carbohydrates found in food: sugar, starch and fiber.
- Sugar: is found naturally in some foods, including fruit, honey, fruit juices, milk (lactose) and vegetables. The opposite is table sugar, found in sweets, chocolate, soft drinks, etc.
- Starch: bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, provide a slow and steady release of energy throughout the day.
- Fiber: vegetables with skins on, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, beans and lentils.
Why do we need carbohydrates?
- Energy: Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. In a balanced diet, 45-65% of calories should be coming from carbohydrates.
- Decreased disease risk: Research shows diets high in fiber are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. Many people don't get enough fiber. A balanced diet should have about 30 grams per day.
- Weight management: Carbohydrates contains fewer calories gram for gram than fat. Starchy foods can be a good source of fiber, which means they can be a useful part of a weight loss plan. High fiber foods help add bulk to your meal and make you feel full longer.
It is certain that we can survive without added table sugar and processed carbohydrates but it is not beneficial in the long run to cut carbohydrates out completely. Instead, include healthier sources of carbohydrates in your diet such as whole grains, potatoes, vegetables, fruits, legumes and lower fat dairy products.