Carbohydrates are one of the most important macronutrients, yet a lot of people avoid them like the plague. So what’s up with carbs? Are they good or bad or something in between? Should you cut carbs for weight loss or can you be healthy even while eating carbs? Here’s what you need to know about how to eat carbs right, the healthy way:
1. Eat the Right Carbs
What are “the right” carbs? If you want to know how to eat carbs right, it’s critical to know which are good for your health. Vegetables, obviously, top the list, but you’ll find there are many more: fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and dairy products. All of these foods contain carbs, but typically carbs that are good for your health and in quantities that won’t have detrimental effects. Fruits and dairy are the highest-carb food choices on this list, so make sure to eat them in moderation. As for the rest, you can make it a priority to include them in your healthy diet.
2. Eat the Right Amounts
With carbs, too much is going to be very bad for your health. Carbs are turned into sugar by your body, which then turns that sugar into stored fat. In fact, your body has an easier time storing the sugar from your diet than the fat from your diet. You could eat 200 calories extra of fat and carbs, and your body would store the carbs while it broke down the fat. So it’s important to realize that carbs need to be consumed in extreme moderation. That means limiting the amount of grains, fruits, dairy, and high-carb veggies you eat every day. You don’t have to cut them from your diet, but limiting them is the key to how to eat carbs right.
3. Beware of Sugars
ALL sugars can have a negative effect—yes, that’s right, ALL sugars. Even healthy sugars like honey or molasses can be bad for your health and weight loss, especially if you eat a lot of them. Sugar is processed very quickly in your body, and it’s absorbed into your liver and turned into stored fat super easily. You’ll end up gaining a lot more weight by eating sugars than you would eating a high-fat diet. It’s imperative that you avoid anything with a lot of sugar; even make it a priority to consume fruit in moderation.
4. Learn about “Net Carbs”
The concept of “net carbs” is fairly simple: take the total grams of carbs in a food, subtract the grams of fiber, and you’re left with the net carbs. The term “net carbs” refers to how much of the carbs your body is actually going to have to digest. Fiber basically neutralizes a lot of the sugar and the carbs in the food you eat, which is why you subtract it from the total carbs. Try to find foods that have a very low “net carb” content even if the total carb content is a bit higher.
5. Avoid Empty Carbs
Empty carbs are any carbs that contain little to no fiber and nutritional value. For example, white flour is an empty carb, because it contains few nutrients and no fiber at all. It’s solid carbs with no real value—the stuff that’s going to make you fat fastest. Your priority should be to eat carbs that contains lots of fiber and nutrients, and avoid anything that contains too little of both. You’ll find that most white and refined carbs are empty, as are any foods with a lot of sugar.