In Defense of Carbs

Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap these days. But, just like there are bad fats and good fats, there are many good carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are necessary for many bodily functions; in fact, they are the body’s primary source of energy. They are so important to human survival that they are considered one of three macronutrients. Macronutrients are defined as, “a substance required in relatively large amounts by living organisms.”

Carbohydrates take many forms from starchy vegetables and whole grains (good carbs!) to processed breads, cookies and refined grains (not so good carbs!).

When integrating carbohydrates into your diet consider my favorite f-word, fiber. Carbohydrates that contain fiber, such as whole grains and whole fruits, do not raise blood sugar as quickly as their non-fiber counterparts.

Evidence shows that adults who eat more whole grains and carbohydrates high in fiber have a lower body weight compared to adults who eat fewer whole grains.

My recommendations: eat a fist-sized portion of fiber-rich carbohydrates at every meal.

Fiber-rich carbohydrates include:

  • Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, oats, and millet
  • Legumes: lentils, black beans, and peas
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes and squash
  • Whole Fruits: apples, berries, avocados, pears, and bananas

I do not believe in excluding any food group, so enjoy the rare piece of birthday cake or that not so rare glass of red wine. But, in your daily life, work to crowd out the processed pastas and cookies and eat more whole grains, whole fruits and of course vegetables!

Labeling

Finally, I have several clients that get tripped up with labeling. There is confusion surrounding the whole grain stamp on packaging.

There are Whole Grains Council, a non-profit consumer education organization, created two different stamps:

The basic stamp indicated products that contain at least 8 g of whole grains per serving but may contain refined grains.

Whereas, the 100% whole grain stamp indicates that the product contains at least 16 g of whole grains per serving and all grain ingredients are whole grain.

When shopping always try to go for whole grains or products that have the 100% whole grain stamp.

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