What’s the big deal with carbs? Are they good or bad?

These days what to eat can be so confusing. There are lots of diets and trends out there that preach one way or another. Recently, carbohydrates or carbs have been getting a lot of negative attention as the keto diet is growing in popularity. While there may be benefits to certain individuals “going keto” it isn’t for everyone. You may wonder if it would be good for you.

There are three different categories of food that our body can use to create energy; carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are the quickest and easiest way our body can get energy. Our body prefers to use carbs as an energy source. Our brain and muscles need carbs. A small amount of carbohydrates can be stored in our body for later use. If carbs are not available, the second best source of energy comes from fat stores. The process of breaking down fats requires oxygen and is therefore, a little bit harder than breaking down carbs (sugars). If we don’t have enough carbohydrates or fats, our body will break down muscle. The proteins in the muscle will be used to make energy. This is not ideal. Your body is breaking down to supply energy.  Limiting your intake of carbs may be appropriate for a short period of time, but is not sustainable. Our body’s primary source of fuel is carbohydrates.

Then, how many carbs and how often should I eat them? The amount of carbs your body needs is going to depend on different factors such as age, gender, how active you are and what types of activities you do. This amount needs to be calculated on an individual basis.

The focus should shift to what are the best sources of carbohydrates that contain the most vitamins and minerals? Highly processed foods may contain carbohydrates but have no added nutritional value: foods such as cereals, potato chips, and desserts. These type of carbs don’t satisfy our body’s needs the way that other sources do. All carbohydrates are not created equal. Here are a few of my favorites: quinoa, potatoes, oats, buckwheat, pumpkin, beans, bananas, cherries, and carrots. The bottom line is carbohydrates are not bad. They are an important type of fuel for our body.

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