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Carbs: The Shunned Stepsister

Eat real food. That’s always been my mantra. It’s simple, straightforward and makes sense to anyone. Somewhere along the way in recent years we seem to have lost our way when it comes to how we should eat. There is an entire industry devoted to marketing food products to us. Studies are funded to tell us which style of eating is best. And, to make matters worse, the information seems to change all the time. It’s actually become quite confusing when it comes to what is the best way to eat. That’s why I’m sticking with my mantra. Eat real food.

One macro nutrient in particular, the carbohydrate (“carbs”) have especially gotten a bad rap over the past decade. For the average person, carbs need not be avoided. What it really comes down to is the quality of your carbohydrates.

The carbs we really want to avoid are the “simple carbohydrates”. Sugar, for example, is the most simple of carbs. It is 50% glucose and 50% sucrose. These carbs are composed primarily of pure sugar and thus they are absorbed quickly into our bloodstream . Simple carbohydrates can wreak havoc on our bodies, causing blood sugar to spike very high, very quickly and then crash very quickly. Ultimately creating a cycle of unstable glucose levels. When this process continues year after year, our bodies can end up in a state of insulin resistance which ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes.

Common examples of foods containing simple carbs include:

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Sweetened yogurts

  • Soda

  • Candy

  • Baked goods

  • Fruit juices

The best carbohydrates to incorporate into your diet are “complex carbohydrates”. Complex carbs are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The sugars that make up complex carbohydrates are arranged chemically different from the simple carbohydrates. The complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed into our bloodstream slower, creating less dramatic spikes and dips in our glucose levels.

Examples of Complex Carbohydrates:

  • Whole grains (whole wheat, barley, farro, bulgur, buckwheat)

  • Beans/Legumes

  • Fruits & Vegetables

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Sweet Potatoes

The Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates

  • Aids digestion

  • Essential for brain health & mood

  • Promotes muscle growth

  • Sustains energy

  • Hormone balance

  • Assists in maintaining blood sugar levels

The bottom line is that everyone is different. A certain food may cause one person’s glucose levels to spike higher than another persons. Some people feel great on low carb diets other people do not. One thing is certain. The average person should avoid simple carbohydrates - they provide very little overall nutrition, tend to be high in calories and consuming too much of them over time will put our body in poor metabolic health, causing inflammation and ultimately creating an environment for chronic health conditions.

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