Good Carb, Bad Carb: RD's Guide to Carb Types
Carbs are the devil. The enemy. Something to fear. Not to be touched. Bad for you.
They’re wrong, JUST WRONG! Big business has been marketing ideas about health, food and how we should feel about it for decades.
High fat, low fat, paleo, low carb, high carb, no carbs, gluten free, fasting, and the baby food diet are all examples of fad diets that make us change what we eat to try to feel and look better.
Is there a way to eat all types of foods, still lose weight and feel good?
The Carb Devil
Simply put, carbohydrates are sugars and a type of macronutrient. The other macros that make up the food we consume are protein and fats. Carbs have been demonized in recent years by marketing companies, so if you think they’re bad for you or that they make you gain unwanted weight, stick around.
You want stuffing on Thanksgiving. You crave muffins and breads for breakfast. Ice cream after dinner, sure! A banana between meals, okay!
It’s okay to eat carbs but they’re not all created equal. There are carbs in vegetables and fruits. Are those bad choices? There are carbs in starches like bread, pasta and rice. There are ALSO carbs in sugary foods and drinks.
When we’re looking at carb consumption, focus on the type and the amount you’re eating with your meal. Some carbohydrates may not be the healthiest choice for everyone.
Fruits and Vegetables - Have vegetables with every meal and fruits with any meal. Fruits and veggies have carbs but they also have a good amount of fiber and nutrients. This category of carbs is okay to eat daily and in moderate to high amounts depending on your degree of activity.
Starches - Think of foods like rice, pasta, breads, sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables like squashes and beets. These complex carbs should be eaten only after a workout to refuel your body from strenuous exercise and keep energy levels steady.
Sugary Foods and Drinks - Soda, candy, lattes, ice cream. The list goes on. Processed sugar takes a toll on the human body and under normal circumstances, will lead to accumulated fat. Limit these kinds of carbohydrates as much as possible.
Range for Women - 20-30 grams of carbs per meal.
Range for Men - 40-60 grams of carbs per meal.
Once you’ve gotten over the fact that carbs are okay to have (hallelujah!), you can now survive the holiday season. Go for a walk or workout before that carb heavy Thanksgiving dinner, add veggies with every meal and have fruit daily to ensure you’re giving your body the nutrients and sugar it needs.