The wild popularity of the Atkins and other low-carbohydrate diets led many Americans to believe that carbohydrates are “bad,” the source of unflattering flab, and a cause of the obesity epidemic. That’s a dangerous oversimplification, on a par with “fat is bad.” Easily digested carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods may, indeed, contribute to weight gain and interfere with weight loss. On the other hans, beans, fruits, vegetables, and other sources of intact carbohydrates do just the opposite—they promote good health.
Don’t be misled by the blanket pronouncements on the dangers of carbohydrates. They are an important part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide the body with the fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function. The best sources of carbohydrates—fruits, vegetables, beans, my favourite is actually Quinoa — deliver essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.16.09 PM
What Are Carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches. Carbohydrates were once grouped into two main categories. Simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates.
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.16.42 PMSimple carbohydrates are types of sugar content found in certain foods. Specifically, a simple carbohydrate is a sweetener that is classified as a monosaccharide or a disaccharide. Some common examples of simple carbohydrates are glucose, sucrose and lactose. There are a number of foods that contain simple carbohydrates. Fresh fruit is one of the best sources of carbohydrates that fall into this category. Berries, grapefruit, apples, and pears all provide a quick lift without adding a lot of calories to the body. For this reason, natural sources of simple carbohydrates are often recommended for people who are trying to lose weight.
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 5.16.48 PMComplex carbohydrates refer to vegetables, beans, split peas, lentils and whole grains in which the process of breaking down the food into absorbable nutrients especially sugar, is slowed by the nutrients in the food, specifically fiber. This slow digestion releases sugar into the blood system slowly creating an consistent level of energy and is the body’s preferred energy source.
It is important to remember that your body will burn sugar or glucose first before any other nutrient in your body as it is the main source of energy. So regardless of how healthy you might be eating even a peace of fruit can be stored as fat if you exercise levels aren’t higher enough.
To include healthy carbohydrates in your diet, you can do the following:
Begin your day with a high-fiber breakfast; aim for 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Eat at least four servings of vegetables per day. Keep freshly cut, ready-to-eat vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator as snacks.
Put vegetables into your food while cooking dinner to bulk it up.
Eat whole fruits instead of fruit juice. You’ll get fiber and more nutrients this way. Whole fruits also fill you up more than the equivalent number of calories in a liquid form.
Say good-bye to white rice and hello to brown rice.
Eat more beans, peas, and lentils. You can add them to salads, soups, and side dishes.
Overall, if you focus your diet on fruits and vegetables as your main source of good carbs and reduce your intake of the refined carbohydrates, you will go a long way towards improving your overall health as well as providing a good environment for the body to try and burn fat.