Carbohydrates, along with proteins and fats, make up a balanced diet. Not all carbohydrates are good, however. What are bad carbohydrates? What negative effect do they have on the body? If some carbohydrates are bad, which ones are good and how can they be included in the diet?
What Are Carbs?
Grains, pastas, rice, bread, legumes, and even fruits and vegetables all provide the body with carbohydrates. Their purpose is to supply the body with energy. Easily broken down, they are the body’s fastest energy resource, which is why an apple or a bagel makes a great quick fix for hunger cravings.
Good and Bad
Carbohydrates can be divided into two different groups, simple and complex. Simple carbs, also known as simple sugars, are those that can be broken down very quickly to produce energy. Fructose, sucrose, and lactose are all examples of simple sugars. These are the bad carbohydrates. While they do supply the body with energy and a rise in blood sugar levels, the effect is short. After eating simple carbohydrates the body needs energy again, blood sugar levels drop and hunger starts all over again. This can lead to overeating and unwanted weight gain.
Another problem with foods that contain bad carbohydrates is the lack of fiber. Complex carbohydrates provide fiber, which promotes a feeling of fullness and helps the body remove waste efficiently. Without fiber one feels hungry even after consuming a lot of calories. Also, a low-fiber diet can lead to problems such as constipation.
Moderation and Healthy Food Choices
In moderation, bad carbohydrates are not that bad. Fructose, is a simple carbohydrate that comes from fresh fruit. Fruit does provide the body with some fiber, as well as many vitamins and minerals. Lactose comes from milk. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all high in calcium and protein and they are a part of a healthy diet.
Fruit and dairy products do provide nutritional value aside from the quick energy from the simple carbohydrates. Other sources of simple sugars, however, are not as healthy. White flour products, cookies, candy, cake, and other sweet treats are loaded with the bad carbohydrates, and they do not have a high nutritional value. For a healthy diet and to help prevent weight gain, choose your simple carbohydrates wisely. Eat lots of fresh fruit and yogurt to help answer sugar cravings, instead of a piece of candy or a muffin.
While simple sugars are sometimes labeled as bad carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are considered to be the good carbohydrates. Foods such as oats, barley, beans, and brown rice are all excellent sources of complex carbs. These foods are high in fiber as well as vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins and magnesium. They help the body feel full after a meal and they promote healthy digestion. Choosing complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates is a great way to promote weight loss and to increase nutritional intake.
The body needs plenty of carbohydrates in order to thrive, but an excess can quickly lead to weight gain as the body is taking in more calories than it needs. Choose the right bad carbohydrates, such as the fruit and the milk, and avoid the sugar, baked goods, and white flour products. Also, eat plenty of the good carbohydrates, the whole grain, high-fiber foods.