It’s funny how people’s opinions are so easily swayed. Not too long ago, fat was the monster in your kitchen. Everyone talked about how horrible fat was, how important it was to avoid fat, and ways to cut the fat from your life. Now it’s all about carbs this and carbs that!
Carbs are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, your body needs carbs to produce glycogen, the fuel it burns for energy. On the other hand, too much carbs will cause negative repercussions: blood sugar spikes and subsequent drops, insulin resistance, fatigue, diabetes, and so on.
Truly, it’s all about limiting the bad carbs and sticking with the good ones as much as possible.
But what makes a carb “good” or “bad”? It’s actually quite simple:
How much fiber? The more fiber a carbohydrate has, the better! Take white and brown rice. When you eat a cup of brown rice, the fiber in the rice will slow down your body’s rate of absorption. The carbs will be absorbed more slowly, and thus won’t be turned into glucose (blood sugar) as fast. This will prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes. With white rice, however, there is no fiber to slow down absorption. This means that there’s nothing to stop it from being turned into sugar, so it can cause a sugar rush–and then a crash! Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes. If you want to know what a “bad” carb is, it’s one that has very little to no fiber.
How much nutritional value? Take a look at whole grains like quinoa versus white flour. Quinoa is packed with protein, carbs, minerals, vitamins, and even a few antioxidants for good measure! It’s basically a complete meal, and you can eat as much as you want (calorie-permitting, of course) without worrying about its effects on your body. On the other hand, white flour has almost no nutritional value beyond its carb content. You’re not giving your body any of the minerals, vitamins, or antioxidants it needs to function properly, so you’re basically putting garbage in your body. If there’s little to no nutritional value, it’s a “bad” carb.
How much sugar? Sugar isn’t always a bad thing, but too much of it can be. Take a banana and compare it to a spoonful of sugar. Bananas contain some sugar, but it’s natural sugar called fructose. There is also fiber and minerals to balance out the sugar content. With table sugar, however, there is nothing else to balance it out. It’s going to go straight into your bloodstream, where it can cause a serious increase in blood glucose levels. The less sugar a carb has, the healthier it is! If it has a lot of sugar, it’s a “bad” carb, even if it has some nutritional value.
Here are a few of the “bad” carbs you need to avoid:
- Potatoes (the jury’s out on this one)
- Fruit juice
- Dried fruit (if consumed in excess)
- White rice
- White flour/bread
- Egg noodles
- Breakfast cereal (unless it’s 100% bran)
- Quick/microwave oats
- Baked goods and pastries
- Corn nuts
- Candy-coated/glazed nuts
- Honey-roasted nuts
- Sweetened peanut butter
- Ice cream
- Sweetened/fruit yoghurt
- Chips/cookies/pretzels/microwave popcorn
- Granola bars
- Rice cakes/crackers
- Low fat salad dressing
- BBQ sauce
- Honey mustard
- Refined sugar
- Processed honey/corn syrup/artificial maple syrup
- Sweetened drinks
- Sweet wines (dark is always best)
- Sugary drink mixers
Cut all of these foods from your life, and you’ll find that you’re MUCH healthier as a result!