A few co-workers recently asked me to give them a meal plan.  I agreed and the next day I showed them the plan.  When making a meal plan I start with caloric intake for the day.  The first item they noticed was the amount of calories.  I can’t eat that much I’ll gain weight.  Then they noticed the carbs.  That is a lot of carbs; “Aren’t they bad for you?”

Atkins and other low carb diets have given Carbs a bad rap.  The question then is; are carbs good or bad. So, let’s discuss carbs; how they impact our body, what are their benefits, and how to use them for good!

How do carbs benefit the body

First let’s talk about what carbs do for the body.  Carbs are found in foods such as grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and dairies.  Carbs contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants.  The body is able to protect itself with these elements.  Fiber helps with the heart, belly fat, and control appetite.  The other elements also help with many issues like cholesterol, heart disease, protect the body’s organs, increase the immune system, minimizing aging, along with other issues.  Why wouldn’t you provide your body with carbs knowing that!  Here is a good article on the sugars in carbs and how they benefit the body. nutrition-now

In the post How our Body Burns Fat we learned that carbs are the frontline for energy.  Our body burns carbs first before any other form of energy.  For definition purposes only, there are two types of carbs; simple carbs which have 1 or 2 sugar molecules and complex carbs that have more than 2 molecules.  Both come from different sources and impact the body differently.  Simple carbs are; sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruits), lactose (dairy products).  Complex carbs are such foods as pasta, rice, bread, and potatoes.  Then mixed into these carbs you also find fiber, which is not digestible or converted like the simple or the complex carbs.

Sugar impact from carbs

This is where the difficulty begins.  Good and bad is hidden in both these types of carbs.  Let’s use a Granny Smith Apple (simple carb) as an example.  Total, the average apple has 80 calories and 22 grams of carbs.  17 grams are sugar (fructose) and 5 grams of Fiber.  Fiber benefits the body and is also not digestible. So how does the fructose digest?

When the body breaks down the carb it turns it into glucose or blood sugar.  This gives the body the instant energy.  The body requires an ample amount of immediate sugar for energy.  Any excessive amount of sugar creates a spike in the body’s blood sugar.  This alerts the body to regulate this spike.  The body does this using insulin.  Insulin regulates the amount of energy the body needs.  The unneeded energy is then stored.  I don’t need to tell you how your body stores energy right, FAT.  The answer then, are carbs bad for you, no they aren’t.  Does an excessive amount of sugar impact the body, yes.  Spike in the body’s blood sugar prohibits the body from working properly and prompts the body to store energy not burn it.

Whole grain

Whole grain carbs respond differently.  Whole grain carbs gradually release into blood sugar.  The blood sugar than does not spike.  Since there is zero spike the body continues business as normal.  Which also means the body doesn’t go into storing mode.  No storing mode means the body process the food and doesn’t create fat cells.  Instead the body extracts the nutrients from the carbs, benefiting the body.  This also regulates the appetite holding off hunger pains.

Key  -eat less processed carbs – increase the fiber in your diet – eat whole grains – limit the sugars eaten at one sitting.  With any diet don’t over eat.  Carbs are Good for you.

Feel free to share your comments or thoughts on carbs!

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