Carbs are NOT the Devil!

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When most people decide they need to drop a few unwanted pounds the first thing they usually do is lay off the carbs.  I must admit I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing a time or two. I think it was sometime in the 90′s that carbs became the enemy of the american diet – at least as far as weight loss was concerned.

Well, I’m a big advocate of living simply and practically. It’s the premise for which my blog was created. I wanted to teach people to live healthy lives by implementing practical strategies. It’s never necessary to go to extreme measures to lose weight. Ultimately, those quick fixes don’t last because they are not sustainable. To consume high protein low/no carb diets don’t work in the long term.

Here’s the thing – our bodies need a combination of nutrients to survive. In particular, our bodies need macronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts.

The three most common macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that we need in the largest amounts. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA, 45% – 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates.

So this is why when people go on low carb diets they have very little energy and find it difficult to be productive. Carbs provide us with a valuable supply of energy.

Here are the main reasons why the majority of our calories should come from carbohydrates:

  • Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.

  • Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, the muscles (including the heart) to function properly.

  • Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are important in intestinal health and waste elimination.

Most people associate carbs with higher calorie foods like sugar and starches, especially bread and potatoes. But those aren’t the only sources. All carbs are not created equally. Simple carbs provide less nutritional value than complex carbs.

Simple Carbs are found in foods like table sugar, brown sugar, molasses, jelly and jam, fruit drinks, soft drinks and candy.

Complex Carbs are found in foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, corn, lentils, beans and peas.They are also found in whole grains and foods made from whole grains like oatmeal and whole grain breads.

So if you are trying to lose weight and want to cut back on carbs, just choose wisely. You want to exclude the starchy, high sugar foods. You want to include more of the energy producing complex carbs.

Here are some final tips:

1. Don’t consume all of your carbs in one sitting; spread them out over small portions so you can keep your energy high and body fueled.

2. It’s best to consume carbs in the morning when your body is calorie-deprived from sleeping. Your glucose tolerance is typically at its highest during the morning, so having breakfast with a big portion of your daily carb intake is very important. Complex, slow-absorbing carbs like oatmeal are great choices for a delicious, nutritious breakfast.

3. Don’t eat carbs in the evening because most people aren’t doing any physical activity at that time. Consequently, your body won’t burn the carbs you consume, and those carbs will more likely be stored as fat.

4. Your complex and fibrous carbs like legumes, whole grains, and veggies should be spread out evenly throughout your meals. That means you should eat veggies with all of your meals except breakfast.

So, now you know why carbs aren’t the devil. If consumed properly, and in the right proportion, they can be your friend.

Reference Links:

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm

http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html

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