Pain au chocolate. Crusty French bread. Petit Fours. They all have one thing in common—they’re mouthfuls of heaven that also happen to be carbohydrates. But just because they’re not paleo friendly or keto diet approved, should they be banished from our cabinets never to make an appearance on our plates again? Well, let’s start by defining what exactly a carb is and why our bodies need them.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients along with protein and fat, and have a role in a balanced and healthy lifestyle. They’re considered a main fuel source and suppor the brain and nervous system by supplying them with the necessary glucose they need to function. More specifically, they’re the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends we eat 135 grams per day. However, other institutions suggest that number is unique to everyone based on age, gender and lifestyle.
A healthy diet is a balanced one that is rich in fruits and vegetables, good fats, healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates. Though a lot of diet plans often implicate carbs as the main source of weight gain, it’s unhealthy processed carbohydrates that are to blame.
Don’t people lose a lot of weight on low-carb diets though?
The short answer is yes. Low-carb diets can be a quick solution to weight loss, but you likely wont get the long-term results you’re hoping for. Weight loss is often a result of water loss, and can even be attributed to muscle loss, which is common on very low carb diets. Weight can return easily and in greater quantity than before. Eating low-carb often means that you’re over-eating protein and fat to compensate—which isn’t healthy either. It’s all about balance.
But, we’re not giving you license to eat all the carbs you want—all carbs are not created equally. Eating processed and refined carbohydrates such as potato chips, refined sugar and white breads is a surefire way to pack on the pounds and not feel too great either. Processing carbohydrates removes much of the dietary fiber, which is an important part of a healthy diet. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as quinoa. On your next trip the grocery store you no longer need to make a beeline past the grains aisle. Load up on whole grains like oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice and colorful fruits and veggies.