What Is The Truth Concerning “Good Carbs” & “Bad Carbs”?

Image by: Dave Pullig
By Jake Bradshaw

Since the Atkins Diet came into the cultural mindset, people have been obsessed with idea of carbohydrates – or lack thereof. Good carbs, bad carbs, they all have been imbeded into our dietary lives. Still, is it smart to be carb free? This nutrient not only gives us what we need to function, but it also maintains our digestive track. So is it really bad for you? 

It’s hard passing by a bakery without taking a giant whiff of the pastries and cursing the fact that they could make us fat. But, in fact, not all of them will. Most of them have the power to help our metabolism give us the body we’ve always wanted, and once you know what to look for, you can have as many croissants your little heart desires.

In a report by the National Academies Institute of Medicine, to meet the daily energy and nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45% – 65% of their calories from carbs. Clearly, carbs are a part of a well-balanced diet. However, there is a difference between natural carbs and man made carbs, and the secret lies with fiber.

Good Carbs = Fiber Content

The association between the good and the bad lies in the fiber content. Period. We’ve all heard about the good carbs: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The reason why these are good is because they’re natural carbs, and natural carbs hold natural fiber.

Without the fiber, our bodies will surpass the absorption of important nutrients within each meal, including carb-filled products. The results are unbalanced blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and a fuller stomach. Carbs are our best friend when they do what they’re supposed to. It’s just a matter of getting them from mother nature and not a science lab.

Bad Carbs = Low Fiber Content

“Bad” carbs are filled with what most Atkins fanatics call “white” grains, which are found in white flour. The  reason why these products are white in color is because their manufacturers “refine” it, or tweak it, to give it more life on the shelves. The consequence, however, is the loss of fiber and a gain in man made sugars, like corn syrups.

With so many companies opting for cheaper production costs, the only solution they have in saving buck loads of money is to “refine” them. Since the 1980s, most food product companies have increased their white grain content due to supply and demand, which is why the nutrition facts on the back of labels have grown from two sentences to two paragraphs.

Ten years ago, the average adult takes in 20 teaspoons of additional man made sugar every day, says a USDA survey. Today that number is sure to have been doubled. Because these refined grains are incredibly low in fiber, it prevents the carbs from doing what their normal functions are.

White bread, white rice, white buns and everything else we know to be made by white flour or white grains deliberately replaces fiber with sugar, making it impossible for carbs to give us its benefits.

Be A Better Shopper

When shopping for good carbs in the grocery story, associate it with it’s fiber content AND it’s grains. Remember, carb-rich foods are fantastic, however, they need to be the type of carbs that supply it’s wing man Mr. Fiber.

Good carbs include things like fruits and veggies (obviously), beans, and whole grain products, i.e. breads, tortillas, pasta, crackers, danishes, whole wheat buns, brown rice and whole wheat dinner rolls. 100% whole grains is the keyword.

Bad carbs include white breads, white rice, and high sugar foods. When it says on the nutrient facts that it contains “high fructose corn syrup,” this means it was seriously refined during the process and has replaced all contents of minerals, nutrients, and carbs with – you guessed it – needless amounts of sugar! Beware.