“Is butter a carb?” –Regina George
For as long as I can recall, carbohydrates have been the enemy in the dieting world. Like calories, all carbs are not created equal. All carbs are not EVIL, in fact specific carbs, are a necessary part of healthy living.
The answer to which carbs are OK is both simple & complex. This is my lame attempt at a pun, but seriously, carbohydrates can be broken down into two categories- simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. These two categories are defined by their chemical makeup, and what your body does with them.
For the most part, simple carbohydrates are higher in sugars and lower in fiber, providing little value to your body. This is generally the rule of thumb to determine if a carb is a “good carb,” or one that should be avoided.
Here’s where it gets tricky, though. Fruits and vegetables are technically simple carbohydrates- ugh what??? Before you swear off fruits & vegetables and start spreading rumors about having to eliminate vegetables to lose weight, let me explain.
Fruits and vegetables ARE composed of basic sugars, but they vary drastically from other carbs in this category like cookies and cakes. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which changes the way our body processes the carb. The fiber slows down the digestion process and breaks down the sugars, making it more like a complex carb in digestion.
Complex carbs are made of longer chain sugars, which takes the body more time to break down and digest. Complex carbs are most commonly whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, lentils, etc. Again, just to avoid any rumors or confusion, remember that fruits and vegetables react more like complex carbs.
The bottom line: carbohydrates serve as you body’s primary source of energy. It is not a matter of avoiding carbs but instead, choosing the right ones.