Are carbohydrates bad for our health? Let’s find out together in this post.
My daily carbohydrate intake is something that I didn’t give much thought to before.
After all, I grew up learning at school that carbohydrate is one of the basic food groups that we should be consuming daily as a main source of energy to keep us going.
But as I started the Avocadu 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, my mind started questioning the effects of carbohydrates (including sugar) in my diet.
What Are Carbohydrates?
According to MedlinePlus, carbohydrates (also commonly known as carbs) are sugar molecules.
Carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients (macronutrients), together with proteins and fats, found in foods and drinks.
The 3 Major Types Of Carbohydrates
There are 3 major types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches, and fibers.
1. SUGARS – Are also known as simple carbohydrates because of their simple structures (shorter chains of molecules, hello chemistry class!) and because they are easier and quicker for our body to digest.
According to VeryWellHealth most of these carbs are processed in the small intestine, where enzymes break them down into individual components that then pass through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream to be used for energy.
Any sugar that isn’t used right away is converted to fat and stored. This is why eating foods with lots of added sugar can contribute to weight gain.
Medical News Today writes that those simple carbohydrates being easier and quicker to digest produce a spike in blood glucose, providing our bodies with a short-lasting source of energy.
There are 2 types of sugars:
- Naturally occurring sugars are commonly found in milk and fresh fruits.
- Added sugars are commonly found in sweets, canned fruits, juices, and sodas. Sweets include things like pastries, candy bars, and ice cream.
According to Cleveland Clinic, our bodies process all sugars the same which means that our bodies can’t tell the difference between natural and added sugars.
But despite the sugars from foods with natural sugars, they also provide vitamins, minerals, and sometimes fibers.
Sugar has many different names. They can be listed on food labels as agave nectar, cane syrup or corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrates, or sugar. But they’re all sugar.
We can use the recommendation for sugar intake from American Heart Association (AHA) as a guide:
- Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.
- Women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day.
Cleveland Clinic further states that too many simple carbs can contribute to weight gain, as well as increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
2. STARCHES – are made of longer, more complex chains of sugar molecules. These carbohydrates keep the feeling of fullness for longer because they take more time for our bodies to digest which makes our bodies’ blood sugar levels stable.
3. FIBERS is a type of carb that our bodies are not capable of digesting. Fiber is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Since fibers are not digestible by our bodies, they don’t directly provide energy to our bodies. But they are beneficial to the friendly bacterias in our digestive system.
Cleveland Clinic states that most of the fibers pass through the intestines, stimulating and aiding digestion. Fiber also regulates blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and keeps us feeling full for longer.
Experts recommend that adults consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day, according to Cleveland Clinic.
What Are Simple Carbs And Complex Carbs?
According to Healthline, carbs are sometimes referred to as simple carbs (also known as refined carbs) and complex carbs (also known as whole carbs).
Simple carbs usually refer to sugars (the first type of carbs), they are the processed carbs that have been stripped of nutrients. While complex carbs usually refer to starches and fibers (the other 2 types of carbs) that are unprocessed carbs that contain vitamins and minerals found naturally in foods.
Some sources of complex carbs are quinoa, brown rice, oats; whole-grain bread, pasta, cereals, and crackers; lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, green peas, and split peas; potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.
While some sources of simple carbs are sugar-sweetened beverages, white bread, pastries, and other items made with white flour.
How About Good Carbs And Bad Carbs?
Good carbs is just another term to refer to complex or whole carbs, while bad carbs for simple or refined carbs.
Everyday Health says that carbohydrates are not bad for us. Both simple and complex carbs are part of a healthy diet. We just have to be sensible in choosing the carbs we consume.
We are advised to skip low-nutrient desserts like ice cream and pastries and focus on healthy whole grains, fruits, and veggies to get the energy that our bodies need every day.
A suggestion from WebMD is that we should fill our plates with 1/2 portion vegetables, 1/4 portion proteins, and another 1/4 portion of starches or complex carbs.
I definitely agree that carbohydrates are not bad for our health, only that we have to choose wisely on what kind of carbs to consume.
We also need to pay attention to the portion of carbs we are consuming everyday, especially if we are one of those unfortunate ones who gain weight super fast (raising both hands!).
Even if carbs are not bad for our health, but I am now careful what carbs to consume and how much to consume everyday.
After doing the Avocadu 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, I can definitely say that refined or simple sugars are the culprit for my weight gain.
You can read my weight loss story here where I lost 9.6 pounds and 1.5 inches of waistline in 3 weeks, just by healthy eating and not consuming simple carbs or “bad carbs”.
Do you give much thought to the carbs that you are consuming on a daily basis? If yes or no, what are the carbs that you eat most of the time?
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.