Are carbohydrates bad for you? The short answer: no.
Some people have a misunderstanding of carbohydrates.People talking about “carbs” usually mean bagels, not milk or spinach. But fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products are sources of carbohydrates.
There are a lot of fad diets that encourage people to entirely eliminate carbohydrates. This has cultivated the idea that carbohydrates are bad for you. There are certainly foods containing carbohydrates that are not good for you. Cookies, cakes, and unhealthy junk foods contain carbs that are bad. However, carbohydrates are not bad for you in and of themselves.
What are carbohydrates?
A carbohydrate is a nutrient that provides your body with the energy it needs to carry out basic functions. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy, and your brain’s most important source of energy. They are broken down for fuel much more quickly than fats and proteins, so they’re more available to your body. .
Carbohydrates are a macronutrient. Macronutrients are substances required in large amounts by living organisms for survival.
The more active you are, the more energy your body needs to function. The energy our body uses is measured in calories. The body receives 4 calories for every 1 gram of carbohydrate consumed.
People sometimes refer to carbs that come from sugar or refined grains as simple carbohydrates, and carbs that come from natural plant foods like whole grains and vegetables as complex carbohydrates. Carbs are also separated into groups on the Glycemic Index, which measures how quickly blood glucose changes after consuming carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are essential for good health. It’s important to replace refined carbohydrates with healthy complex, carbohydrates that are found naturally in nutritious foods.
Are carbohydrates are bad for you?
Eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates from refined foods, can make it difficult for your body to control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes have to be mindful when eating carbohydrates.
Eating too many carbohydrates, especially from refined and processed foods, can also lead to weight gain. Of course, overeating of any type of food almost always leads to weight gain.
But not all carbohydrates are bad.
Simple carbohydrates vs complex carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates such as sugars are broken down into energy quickly, whereas complex carbohydrates – such as whole grains – are broken down more slowly.
You may have heard that your body needs sugars. This doesn’t mean that you need to eat sugar. Your body makes glucose, a natural sugar, from all the carbohydrates that you eat. You may enjoy sugars in fruit (fructose) or dairy products (lactose) or even cookies and candy (sucrose), but your body can create glucose from zucchini and brown rice just as well.
The National Library of Medicine recommends that you get your carbohydrates from whole foods. Rely on healthy foods such as whole grains, fruits, beans, and vegetables as your source of carbohydrate rather than fried potatoes, cakes, and pies. Avoid foods with added sugar as these provide carbohydrates that are quickly broken down into energy without providing additional nutrients.
Energy sounds like a good thing, but only if it’s used. Munching on candy and chips while playing video games results in lots of stored energy — basically, excess fat.
Don’t avoid essential nutrients.
It’s unwise to omit nutrients from your diet unless instructed by a medical professional. There are few studies that show diets rich in healthy carbohydrates lead to weight gain. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 45-65% of your daily caloric intake should consist of carbohydrates. Of course, if you have diabetes, your needs may be different. Talk with your doctor if you’re not sure about your personal nutritional needs.