All around you, there are diets that are telling you to beware of carbs. They seek out to demonize all carbs, regardless of where they come from. They want you to fear them, to stay away from them at all costs. These diets are fads. Sure, they may help to take some initial weight off, but there is no way a person can go their life without carbs. As soon as you fall back into old habits, the fad diet goes out the window and the weight comes back on.
Understanding the fundamental differences between good carbs and bad carbs will alleviate your need for the latest diet craze and set you on the right track towards a a happy, healthy life. Remember, you don’t want to change your diet, you want to change your lifestyle.
First, we’ll take a look at the bad carbs that are responsible for giving all carbs a bad rep. Another word for bad carbs would be simple sugars. They are broken down quickly in your body which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. Excess blood sugar in the body will signal the body to retain fat. More nutrients you take in will be saved as fat cells instead of muscle cells for instance. It’s no wonder people who consume lots of baked goods with white flour, candy, sodas, white pastas, white rice, white potatoes (notice a trend here?). They are usually highly processed and have lost a large portion of their nutritional value in the process. A quick tip to avoiding bad carbs; stay away from most white foods.
Think of bad carbs as empty calories. They taste great, but once inside they do little more than spike your blood sugar which promotes fat retention. You receive much less nutritional supplementation from them than you would complex carbs. In addition, for those with chronically elevated blood sugar levels, the possibility of developing diabetes is a serious threat.
Anything that is a complex carbohydrate is considered a good carb. They have a more complex molecular chain, and therefore are harder to break down by your body (this is a good thing). The result is the absence of a spike in blood sugar levels. They are typically high in fiber and other nutrients your body craves. Fiber works in several ways to positively impact your health. First, soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in the intestines and carries them out as waste. This helps lower low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol. A high fiber diet will also keep hunger pangs and blood sugar levels in check. Adding good carbs and cutting out bad carbs may be confusing for the uninformed. Below, we’re going to show you some very easy and beneficial ways to make the switch from bad to good in your diet.
- Start your day with whole grains. A bowl of steel-cut oats or even rolled oats are a great way to start your morning. If you want cold cereal, try anything that lists whole oats, whole wheat, or another whole grain first on the ingredient list.
- Ditch the white for wheat. This applies to a wide array of products. Look for breads that list WHOLE wheat first on the ingredient list (be sure it says WHOLE wheat). Eat brown rice instead of white. Wheat pasta instead of white pasta. Go whole grain whenever possible.
- Pass the potatoes. If you want a carbohydrate with dinner, for instance, pass on the potatoes. There are a variety of other grains that are much healthier and tastier than a plain white potato. Look for bulgur, wheat berries, quinoa, or cous cous to mix it up.
- The magical fruit. Sure, they might make you toot, but they pack tons of slow-digesting good carbs and nutrients in them. Beans are a great food for a high-fiber, low blood sugar level lifestyle.
- Eat your veggies. Vegetables are an excellent source of good carbs. In addition they pack in tons of anti-oxidants and other nutrients that are shown to lower cancer and lead to a healthy heart. We should all strive to eat as many vegetables as we can. They are truly the cornerstone to good health and happy living.
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