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The Carbohydrate Debate

“There are good carbs and bad carbs.” “All carbs are bad.” “Carbohydrates make you fat.” “Go low carb or no carb . . .” the carbohydrate discussion is endless. Like many areas in the food industry, it is difficult to get good answers and make informed decisions, which is unacceptable.  I am frequently asked about my family eating low carbohydrate or no carbohydrates because we typically choose not to eat refined, processed grain products like bread, pasta, or crackers. Let’s unpack some helpful thoughts on carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates as Body Fuel

Carbohydrates are a useful fuel source for your body, particularly for your brain. The food from which your body obtains carbohydrates can vary a lot in terms of how that carbohydrate is delivered and how many other nutrients are delivered with it.

Same Carbohydrate Amount, Same Energy, Different Micro-nutrients

The same 17 grams of carbohydrate are found in the pictured amount of these four foods:

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20 mL of organic sugar, one piece of seedy organic brown bread, one medium organic apple and one tub and a couple extra handfuls of organic spinach.

The SAME amount of carbohydrate. The SAME amount of energy. Vastly different amounts of micro-nutrients. If someone can argue that eating the same amount of carbohydrates from the left half in any way approaches the benefit of the right side, I would love to hear it and am happy to consider changing my stance.

Processed Food VS Whole Food Carbohydrates

There is a big difference between low carb and low refined carb.  I find it very difficult to argue for the former from a health standpoint as carbohydrates are needed to fuel our bodies. If you eat the same macro nutrient profile (%carbohydrate/protein/fat) made up of processed food versus whole food with most carbs coming from fruit and veggies, it is no contest. You get significantly more nutrients, and almost always healthier delivery of carbohydrates from real food.

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Buy Quality Ingredients

The take-away? I suggest when making changes that you don’t worry about carbohydrates vs fat vs protein. Instead, focus on the quality of those ingredients and where they come from.