When it comes to nutrition there is a lot of information and misinformation out there that spreads pretty easily, thanks to the internet, social media and word of mouth. Some of your buddies may be trying and suggesting diets that sound good at first but may not be ideal for optimal health. Low or no-carb diets have made their way into the limelight, but it’s not necessary to completely omit carbs from your diet. (Of course, the best way to know what’s best for your body is to speak directly to a registered dietitian for nutrition advice).
What exactly are carbs?
Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients along with fats and proteins that are important for human health. Carbs are an important source of energy in your body— they provide quick energy, and also maintain the backup stores in your muscles and liver (known as glycogenMedline Plus. US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 5/9/16 from: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/carbohydrates.html).
It’s time to break down a few of these anti-carb myths to put you at ease about eating your favorite foods:
Myth 1: All carbs come from processed foods, added sugars or foods made with grains.
Reducing added sugars, by eating fewer sugary snacks, and candies, isn’t bad idea, but not all carbohydrates fall into this category. Many good-for-you foods fall into the carbohydrate grouping; look for whole grains, beans, starchy root vegetables and fruit for carbs that also can provide vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Myth 2: You don’t need carbs
The USDA recommends that your diet consist of 45-65% carbs, depending on your activity levelUSDA. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Retrieved 5/9/16 from: http://origin.www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DGAC/Report/D-5-Carbohydrates.pdf, gender and age. When you don’t consume adequate carbohydrates, your body is set up to make sure we get the fuel in other ways. Your body does this through a metabolic process called gluconeogenesis. This is when your body produces sugar, or glucose, from a non-carbohydrate source. It is ideal to not rely on gluconeogenesis, as it can take proteins and fats away from their needed functions. Eating each of the macronutrients helps support your body’s overall function.
Myth 3: Carbs are bad for me
Carbohydrates get a bad rap. They are important for energy, brain function and cell function. Some sources of plant-based carbohydrates like beans, lentils, vegetables, and fruit also provide fiber in your diet. Cutting out all carbs can cut down your consumption of fiber.
Also consider that brightly red, blue, orange, purple, and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide phytonutrients that can have an antioxidant effect, which may help fight free radical damage.Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved 5/9/16 from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/#antioxidants Truly eliminating carbohydrates may eliminate many sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
When you think about all the fad diets you’ve heard of over your lifetime it is a good idea to stick to a balanced diet that includes all macronutrients, to ensure you are getting the fuel and micronutrients you need for optimal health. To find balance recipes that include good-for-you carbs, visit the Vega Recipe Center.
Comment below with your favorite source of carbohydrates.