What is a Carb?

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Over the past few years, we have heard so much hype about CARBS.

  •  Good carbs
  •  Bad carbs
  • High glycemic carbs
  • Low glycemic carbs
  • Complex carbs
  • Simple carbs

Is your head still spinning?  Let’s take a step back and look at carbohydrates and understand how to best incorporate them into a healthy lifestyle. Carbohydrate = energy They are typically found in plants, fruits, vegetables and grains.  Energy, aka carbohydrates, come in 2 forms:

  • Simple carbs — easy to digest 
    • aka: bad carbs, low GI carbs
  •    Complex carbs — harder to digest
    • aka:    good carbs, high GI carbs, whole grains

Yes it’s quite amazing how many different terms can be used to describe 2 concepts.Simple carbs are foods with naturally occurring sugars or have been refined so much that they no longer hold any nutritional values.  These types of carbs don’t leave your body feeling very satiated.   Simple carbs are easy for your body to digest and give your body a quick jolt of energy, and once this food is digested the insulin remaining in your bloodstream sends the “feed me” signal to your brain. 

Examples of these types of carbs include:

  • Fruit sugars
  • Table sugars
  • Milk sugars
  • White flour
  • White bread

Complex carbs are more difficult for your body to digest because they are packed with fiber and other vitamins and minerals.With complex carbs your body spends time digesting the fibers, so the “feed me” signal to the brain is delayed.

  • Vegetable
  • Whole grains
  • Peas
  • Beans

So, why did we become so afraid of carbs? Carbs taste GREAT! We love pastas, breads and sugars and when we eat too much of these carbs, they are very easily stored as fat.  So we because afraid of carbs, because we thought ALL carbs made us fat.  So, how do I keep this from happening?The key is balance and moderation.  Our bodies need carbs to function and should be eaten based on the needs of your body.  Most active adults need 55 -60% of their total calories to come from carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates are 4 calories/gram. If you would like to find out exactly what the right carbohydrate balance should be for you, please send me an email. 

By replacing your morning bagel or scone with a cup of hot oatmeal you will increase your daily complex carb intake and you’ll find that you won’t feel hungry.  It can be as simple as adding a ½ cup of regular or steel cut oatmeal to a packet of low sugar or sugar free instant oatmeal you can also add in a sprinkle of nuts and a sprinkle of dried or fresh fruit to give you sweetness.  For those on the go, this breakfast is highly portable and can be made in the microwave in less than 5 minutes. My favorite is 1/4 cup of regular oatmeal and a 1/4 cup of steel cut oatmeal, sprinkle of walnuts, dried cranberries, a packet of Splenda and a dash of nutmeg.  If you are the creative type then here is another recipe to get your culinary juices started.  Please feel free to  email me your favorite oatmeal recipes.Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal Tomorrow’s topic will be protein.

If you’d like to discuss any other topics please let me know.

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