I found an article that, I think, expertly explains carbs and their influence in the body. I am a believer that there are good carbs and bad carbs. A lot of people freak out when I say I am on a low carb diet. I guess a better term for it is really low sugar diet as I do strongly believe that fruit (in moderation) and veggies are extremely important to live a healthy lifestyle.
Personally, my body tends to be sensitive to most carbs – even fruit. Fruit, unfortunately, if one of my favorite foods. What I really like about the low-carb lifestyle is that you are kind of starting from scratch – you remove most carbs from your system so you are left eating the basic food groups (veggies, meats, and healthy fats). Once you get to your goal weight you slowly start adding in more “healthy” carbs – like fruit – until you find your threshold that allows you to maintain your current weight. Some people can eat more healthy carbs than others. At this point my body is so out of whack that even eating some fruit will cause me to gain weight. ideally I would like to be able to add 1/2 to 1 cup of fruit to my meal plans every day or every other day. I still have a while to go though – about 60 lbs to lose – before I can start experimenting with fruit and higher carb veggies like potatoes. Slow but steady I will figure it out.
I find tons of great articles on the PrecisionNutrition.com website but this one is one of my favorites: http://authoritynutrition.com/good-carbs-bad-carbs/
Here is an overview of this article as I understand it:
Purpose of carbs: The main purpose of carbs is to provide energy. Most carbs are broken down and transformed into glucose to use for energy. The rest that is not burned off is turned into fat and stored for later use. If you consume more carbs than you burn off you will continue to store fat and gain weight.
Whole Carbs vs Refined Carbs:
I really like how PrecisionNutrition.com breaks this down. They state that there are technically two types of carbs “whole” carbs and “refined” carbs.
- Whole Carbs (Good for you): Natural whole foods, that while higher in carbohydrates, are loaded with nutrients and fiber and do not cause the same blood sugar spikes as to refined carbs.
- Veggies: All kinds. Eat lots of them in every color.
- Fruits: Natural fruits like apples, bananas, berries, etc.
- Legumes: lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, etc
- Seeds: chia, pumpkin, etc.
- Whole grains: unrefined oats, quinoa, etc
- Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Refined Carbs (Bad for you): Carbs with no nutritional value that cause a number of health problems when consumed frequently. Linked with obesity.
- Sugary drinks: Soda, Vitaminwater, etc. Sugary drinks are some of the unhealthiest things you can put into your body, including fruit juices.
- White and Wheat breads: these are refined carbohydrates that are low in essential nutrients and bad for metabolic health. This applies to most commercially available breads.
- Pastries, cookies and cakes: these tend to be very high in sugar and refined wheat.
- Ice cream: most types of ice cream are very high in sugar, although there are exceptions.
- Candies and chocolates: Typically you want to stay away from any kind of sweetened chocolate as it has white sugar in it. Try 70% dark cocoa or higher forms of dark chocolate with no or little added sugar.
- Fried Foods: French fries, potato chips, etc.
Is low carb for you?
PrecisionNutrition.com says that the low carb lifestyle is not for everyone – I believe this 100%. People with an active lifestyle that can burn off the carbs they eat can be perfectly healthy and happy on a higher carb diet. Also, people with a higher metabolism can probably eat carbs without significant weight gain.
I, on the other hand, seem to be very carb sensitive. Even though I work out on a regular basis, I tend to store fat. “Refined” carbs, even some “whole” carbs, tend to make me sluggish, give me brain-fog, stomach troubles, etc. I feel significantly more energetic, my brain-fog goes away, and I just feel better on a low carb diet – you need to do what makes YOU feel great.