From cookies to cakes, pizza to pasta, carbohydrates have become more foe than friend. But are all carbs bad, necessarily? Should we be shunning carbs all together in favor of meaty alternatives? The answer is plain and simple: no. In September 2002, the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommended that people focus on getting more good carbs with fiber into their diet. This report stated that, to meet the body’s daily nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, “Adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein.” Additionally, WebMD cites the best sources of fiber as plant foods, like fruits and vegetables, which are “quality carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber.” Why do we need high-fiber carbs? “Studies show an increased risk for heart disease with low-fiber diets. There is also some evidence to suggest that fiber in the diet may also help to prevent colon cancer and promote weight control,” WebMD notifies us. Okay, so carbs aren’t that bad for you, as low-carb, ketosis-provoking diets would have us think. The trick is getting “good” carbs into our system, rather than munchin’ down “bad” carbs in cookies and cake.
What are “good” carbs?
Even if you’re trying to eat low carb meals, you still need to make sure you get the right amount of “good” carbs. So what are these mysterious “good” carbs, exactly? To find a good carb, look for foods that are full of fiber, like whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. The fiber in fruits, veggies, and whole grains allows us to moderate our blood sugar levels and even lower cholesterol.
What are “bad” carbs?
Now that we’ve identified “good” carbs, the ones we should gravitate towards, what are the carbs that we should stay away from? “Bad” carbs include those like sugars, refined “white” grains, and foods with added sugars. When looking at food labels, try to steer clear of foods with white or brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar alcohol carbohydrates like actitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
Instead of focusing on avoiding carbs all together, try putting plenty of fruits and vegetables on your low carb grocery list, implementing beans into your diet, and switching from white to whole grains. Additionally, try to beef up the amount of proteins on your low carb grocery list to avoid the dreaded “bad” carb cravings. Heathy proteins could include lean cuts of pork and beef, chicken, turkey, cuts of fish, and egg whites. Lean proteins will keep you fuller, so you’ll be less likely to reach for a chocolate chip cookie when your stomach starts to grumble. Next time you’re making your low carb grocery list keep these tips in mind, avoid bad carbs, and stock up on healthy proteins for a fail-proof diet.