Carbs: Sugar or Fuel?

While dieting, it can be confusing to remember the positives and negatives of including carbohydrates in your meals. Are they a necessary part of a balanced diet, or do they impede you from reaching your weight-loss goals? We asked three experts to explain the truth about carbs before you cut them out completely.

Simple Carbs: The Bad Ones
Simple carbs are those with sugar—and not much more. They can provide a rapid burst of energy, but are also digested very quickly, which is why you often feel tired or sluggish after consuming them. You’ll find simple carbs in candy, some sodas (you’ll be
 surprised to see the carb count), fruit drinks and corn
syrup, milk or milk-based products, cereal and grains, white bread and most baked goods. But, lesser-known sources like honey, brown sugar and raw sugar, to name a few, can also indicate that sugar has been added when listed on the label (the closer it is to the top of the list, the more sugar it has).

Yuri Elkaim, holistic nutritionist and author of The All-Day Energy Diet, says, “Most packaged foods that contain hidden sugars and little fiber—including your mocha frappe latte and pretty much all fast food—fall under this category.” Traci D. Mitchell, health and fitness coach and author of The Belly Burn Plan, adds, “Condiments, from flavored coffee creamer to ketchup, are usually loaded with refined, sugary carbs.”

Complex Carbs: The Good Ones
Think of these carbs as your “whole foods”—the ones that
 give you fuel. These carbs include fruits, vegetables, squash, seeds, grains and legumes. Although there is no question that these carbs are the most beneficial, some nutritionists often differ on which ones are considered the best.

“Natural complex carbs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients,” says holistic celebrity nutritionist Nilli Grutman, who adds that if it’s “natural,”
it’s probably a fortifying carb. Mitchell says, “The superstars among carbohydrates include vegetables and fruits, in that order. And, unless the vegetable is starchy, such as potatoes, there is really no reason why it should be limited.”


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