Everything You Need to Know About Carbs
By Lydia Wallie, Nutritional Director
Many times people may cut out carbohydrates or go very low carb to lose weight. However, carbs serve an important role in helping us to digest fats and proteins. And, if we’re eating high-quality carbs, their fiber and water content will satiate us much more than highly processed, unhealthy carbs.
What are healthy carbs compared to unhealthy carbs?
The four main groups of nutritious carbs are:
VEGETABLES: Eat a wide variety of local, organic, in-season vegetables, with at least some raw, with an emphasis on leafy green vegetables.
The farmer’s market can be a great source.
FRUIT: Eat mostly in their whole form (straight fruit juice without fiber can cause blood sugar spikes), preferably organic (especially when eating the skin) and in-season.
Personally, in a dream world, I would eat fruit in-season, but that’s difficult to find, so the most economical option I’ve found is buying organic frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s and Costco. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be higher quality than fresh, since they are picked at the peak of ripeness, unlike fruits that have to be transported for miles.
TUBERS & SQUASH: These are foods like sweet potatoes, yams, taro, plantains, pumpkin, parsnips, and rutabaga.
GRAINS & LEGUMES: I mostly stay away from grains 95% of the time, but some people tolerate them especially well if they’re prepared by soaking, sprouting or fermenting. If you are autoimmune or have a propensity for that, it’s best to stay 100% away from grains (1). I’m also an advocate of completely, 100% eliminating gluten/wheat from the diet since it can promote inflammation and damage the gut lining (2).
In contrast, unhealthy carbs are any refined man-made concoctions. Consuming unhealthy carbs leads to nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal distress. Here’s a list:
REFINED SUGARS: Processed sugar (includes white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and concentrated fruit juice).
REFINED GRAINS: This is any grain that is not in its whole form (for example, white bread, enriched flour).
PACKAGED FOODS: Even if a label says “healthy” or “natural,” don’t believe the hype. Read the label to see what’s inside. Also, foods with labels are usually not as nutritious as the whole foods they may have originated from. Eating as unprocessed as possible is best! Need help transitioning your diet and lifestyle? Contact our team today to schedule Nutrition Sessions.
ENERGY DRINKS: Many energy drinks will contain processed sugars or sugar alcohol which is problematic. READ LABELS!
Take a small action to apply what you learned and gain momentum toward your goals: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), how would you rate the quality of the carbs you’re consuming? Create a simple action plan for this week to increase your rating by one point!