Diet 101: Are Carbs Really Bad For You?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a duration of the last year (which: fair), chances are you either avoid carbs like the plague, or you know someone who does. And while it almost seems as if every month, there’s a new study that comes out pitting low-carb and high-fat diets against each other, the truth is that one diet is not necessarily better than the other.
You see, when it comes to supporting a healthy lifestyle, it’s all about balance. However, when asking whether carbs are good for you, the short answer is: good carbs are, in fact, good for you, while bad carbs, on the other hand, aren’t.
Basically, what we’re trying to say here is that not all carb sources are created equal. For example, there are different types of carbohydrates. Refined carbs can be extremely harmful in high amounts, but whole-food sources of complex carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet! If you are concerned about weight gain, a high-carb diet, or other dietary guidelines, it can be worthwhile to learn about carbs.
Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on as we explore carbs and clear up a few common misconceptions.
Everything You Need To Know About Carbs
The moment a pool party, family reunion, or vacay at the beach pops up on the calendar, many of us immediately declare war on carbs. No pizza. No pasta. No bread. And definitely no potatoes. *sigh* Instead, we often turn to vegetables, brown rice, healthy fats, supplementing vitamins and minerals, and counting calories.
But is banishing the bulk of carbohydrates really the best plan of attack to get slim and trim? Is this the route we need to take to feel good? Not to mention, where do net carbs come into play when it boils down to our overall health? And why do we blame them for our muffin tops, double chins, and tummy rolls?
Before we uncover the answers to these common questions, it’s first important to understand what carbs are and why they’ve gotten such a bad rap over the years.
OK — So What Are Carbs?
Simply put, carbs (aka carbohydrates) are one of three major macronutrients (fat and protein being the other two) and are found in many foods and beverages. Most carbs occur naturally in plant-based foods, such as grains. Food manufacturers also add carbs to processed foods in the form of starch or added sugar.
The three main types of carbs include:
- Starch: a complex carb, meaning it’s made of many sugar units bonded together. Starch occurs naturally in many veggies, grains, and cooked dry beans.
- Sugar: the simplest form of carbs, sugar occurs naturally in some foods like fruits, veggies, and milk. Types of sugar include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), and fruit sugar (fructose).
- Fiber: another complex carb, fiber occurs naturally in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and cooked dry beans.
These three carbohydrates are called “simple” or “complex” on the basis of their chemical makeup and what your body does with them. Because many foods and beverages contain one or more types, it can be a little tricky to understand what’s healthy for you and what’s not.
Simple Carbs vs. Complex Carbs — What’s The Difference?
Simple carbs are made up of easy-to-digest sugars, some of which are naturally occurring, such as those in milk and in fruits, while processed or refined sugars are usually added to foods like baked goods, soda pop, and candy.
These simple carbohydrates are absorbed rapidly through the gut and can cause a hefty spike in blood sugar levels —which is not good by any means as too much sugar in the blood for long periods of time can result in serious health problems.
When checking the nutrition label, keep an eye out for added sugars, which can go by many different monikers such as:
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Malt syrup
On the other hand, Complex carbs are found in whole grains, veggies, and legumes and contain an additional component — fiber.
While technically a type of carbohydrate, fiber is not digested and absorbed, which allows for much slower absorption of the carbohydrate into the bloodstream. What does this mean, you ask? Simply put, complex carbs won’t spike glucose and insulin levels as a simple carb would, making them the superior carbohydrate of the two.
Got It. What Are Carbs Used For?
Believe it or not, the main role of carbohydrates in your body is energy production. That being said, whether you nosh on potato chips, ice cream, or fresh fruit, any source of carbs you consume is broken down to glucose (sugar). Your blood then transports this sugar to cells throughout your body, where it’s used for energy. This is particularly important for your red blood cells and brain because they use glucose as their primary source of fuel.
When the carbs are digested and absorbed, some of the glucose is stored in your liver and muscles as “glycogen.” However, your body can only hold onto so much glycogen, and once your stores are full, your body will convert the excess carbohydrates (aka glucose) to fat, which is then stored in adipose tissue.
So Carbs Are Bad?
No, carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, most healthy individuals need a variety of carbs to stay energized, satisfied, and full. BUT, if you happen to overindulge and consume more carbs than what your body needs, it will be converted to fat which can lead to obesity— and it’s as simple as that!
The rule of thumb is for carbs to make up 40 to 60 percent of your daily caloric intake. But worry less about the number of carbs you’re eating daily and focus more on the type of carbs you’re consuming. Steer clear of simple or processed carbs and opt for complex carbs like whole grains, veggies, peas, and beans.
Why Is Everyone So Scared of Carbs?
Carbohydrates stir up a whole lot of controversy because they’re often demonized in the media. From celebs like Jennifer Lopez’s ten-day “no-carb challenge” to die-hard keto fans boasting about the purported benefits from nixing carbs, it’s easy to think that we should shun all carbohydrates.
In reality, however, when many people say “no-carb,” they’re not saying no to all carbs. What they are saying no to do are processed or simple carbs — the carbohydrates that spike blood sugar levels and can lead to many dangerous medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more.
What About Keto?
Keeping your carbohydrate intake low can help you to achieve a healthy body composition, but eliminating all carbs from your diet is unnecessary and can make you miserable. That’s why if you’re going to follow a low-carb diet like keto, it’s important to keep in mind that it is a “low-carb” diet and not a “no-carb” diet.
When following keto, fuel your body with complex carbs that come from fresh fruits and veggies, not to exceed 50 carbohydrates a day. Drink lots of hydrating H2O and try our unbelievably delicious Ke-Tone MCT+CLA+Ketones supplement to help get your body into ketosis instantly!
This ProKeto BHB enhanced blend of MCT+CLA+Ketones will raise blood ketones, increase energy, improve overall performance, and will help your body use fat as fuel rather than storing it in your midsection — what’s not to love?
Bottom Line: So — Are Carbs Bad?
The answer is: yes and no.
Simple carbs are absorbed quickly by the gut, which can quickly cause an uptick in blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels are high, it puts you at risk for many life-threatening medical conditions.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, pack in more body-nourishing nutrients than simple carbs.
Much higher in fiber and digested at a slower rate, complex carbs will not cause your blood sugar to spike and are an excellent option for those looking to improve their overall body composition. If you’re living a ketogenic lifestyle, these are the types of carbs you want to include in your diet, not to exceed 50 grams per day to stay in the fat-burning state of ketosis.
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