We all know what carbs are. They’re those “bad” foods that people who are trying to get in shape cut out of their diet. Because carbs are bad for you, right? Actually, that’s not completely true. Most people shouldn’t be cutting a significant amount of carbohydrates from their diet. And here’s why:
Carbohydrates (the technical name of carbs) are the body’s main energy source, deriving from starch, sugar, and cellulose. Many carbohydrate foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and some fiber. They’re so important that the USDA currently recommends that between 45%-65% of calories should come from consuming carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, though, you can’t consume tons of Poptarts and cake to meet those recommendations. There are two major types of carbohydrates, simple and complex, and the USDA recommends that most of your carb intake come from consuming complex carbohydrates.
These are made of just one or two connected sugar molecules, causing them to digest very quickly. Simple sugars cause insulin spikes, which means consuming them makes one feel very energetic at first and quite lethargic soon after. They generally have very few vitamins, minerals, or fiber.
Simple carbohydrates include these types of foods or others that contain them:
- Table sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Jams, jellies
- Fruit drinks/juices
- Soft drinks
- White bread
These are made of longer strands of sugar molecules, meaning they take longer to digest. This slow breakdown prevents insulin spikes in the blood, making them a long-lasting energy source without causing tiredness. Complex carbs consist of more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than simple sugars do.
These types of foods fall under the category of complex carbohydrates:
- Most vegetables
- Many fruits
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain bread
- Rice (brown, colored, wild)
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin)
- Beans, lentils, peas
For the best health benefits, add more complex carbohydrates to your diet. And if you’re unsure how to make these foods delicious (Because – let’s face it – Poptarts will always taste better than oatmeal), follow the rest of America’s lead and hit up Pinterest for an unlimited number of delicious recipes.