Are carbs good for you? YES!
But before I get into that, I want to tell you a little story. When I was battling with my weight (I was over 200 pounds), I had tried several of the different diets out there. I was desperate because I hated being so overweight. I didn’t care if something was good for me or not. I just wanted it to work. I went on a diet (I won’t name it) that promoted high amounts of protein and fat while minimizing carbohydrate intake. I did it for three weeks. I did lose weight, but I was also a miserable wreck, had no energy and my digestive system didn’t function so well.
The reason I mention all of this is because eating for optimal health shouldn’t make you feel sick or lethargic. But when you follow a fad diet, it’s likely you’ll put your body through unnecessary stress and hardships. Carbs have been heavily promoted as the enemy, so I plan on debunking that claim, right here and now.
Are Carbs good?
Benefit #1 – They provide energy
Carbohydrates break down into glucose. Glucose is a major source of energy for the human body.
Specifically, though, the brain relies on glucose to function properly. When we don’t supply our glucose stores through adequate carbohydrate intake, the body has to resort to using glycogen (stored glucose in the muscle tissue) to make it available for use. This could have a negative effect on your metabolism. When your brain doesn’t receive the energy it needs, you could become lightheaded, irritable and foggy. It’s also possible you’ll go into “starvation mode.” When this happens, you may end up gorging on anything you can get your hands on.
Benefit #2 – They come in the form of high-quality foods
Well, actually, they do and they don’t.
If you’re eating things like snack crackers, white/bleached pasta, bread and rice, you’re basically eating foods that don’t offer anything other than a very simple form of carbohydrates that break down immediately. They have their time and place (and I’ll get into that in a minute), but for the most part, carbs in their most natural form come from high-quality foods.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains are all rich in carbohydrates. The good news is, they also usually contain protein and fiber. These are the types of carbohydrates that give you the most bang for your buck. They’re lean, filled with high-quality nutrients and you can mix them up in different recipes and get a wide variety of health benefits from eating them.
Benefit #3 – Different types serve different purposes
Not all carbs are created equal. But neither are our reasons for relying on them.
I know most people put the simple carbs in the category of useless and unhealthy, but the truth is, they do serve a purpose. If you’re a professional athlete and you need to fuel up or replenish energy quickly, simple carbs may not be such a bad idea.
But if you spend most of your time sitting and you don’t exercise often, they’ll won’t serve the same useful purpose. They may even create problems. When you don’t use the energy you get from carbs, they build up and eventually get stored as fat. That’s why it’s good to know how to use them properly. Now if your lifestyle doesn’t call for the immediate use of energy, your best bet is to stick with complex carbs which take longer to break down in the body. This results in a slower release of glucose (blood sugar). It’s easier on your pancreas and keeps you full longer.
Using Carbs Wisely
When you know how to use food in a way that supports your unique needs, you’ll understand how to eat for optimal health and weight management. Carbs (like anything else), when abused or even used improperly can be detrimental. But we need them, so they certainly aren’t the enemy. Just keep a well-balanced diet filled with a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Plan your meals according to your activity levels. That’s how food becomes your friend – which is the best way to use it.