How much is too much? Are there “good” carbs and “bad” carbs? What is a carb anyway?
Carbohydrates–foods that contain sugars, starches and fibers–are sometimes not considered to be our friends. Truth of the matter is this: we need some carbohydrates in our diet to help supply energy and provide enough food (glucose) to the brain. The number of grams of carbohydrates we need in a day will vary depending on our size, metabolism, activity level and lots of other parameters. The problem seems to be that most Americans consume way too many refined, low fiber, processed carbohydrates. Too much of anything can cause trouble, especially when it comes to maintaining good health.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has suggested 130 grams per day as the minimum, but again, that number will not work for every body. To measure the amount of carbohydrates you should eat with most of your meals, cup your hand. Women should eat one cupped-hand size portion and men should eat two. This is for the carbohydrate-dense foods, such as grains, fruits, starches, and figuring you may eat four times a day. A good starting point for most people. Pretty simple!
Calories? They are not created equal. And, they are not fun to count. I know. After my freshman year in college, I spent the summer counting them to lose 25 pounds. One-hundred calories of a spinach, strawberry salad will provide lots more nutrients than one-hundred calories of cookies.
The best carbs to eat are these: vegetables, fruits, and whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, whole oats (not the oats in little packages with loads of sugar), legumes. Examples of the “bad” or refined carbs and those you should do your best to minimize are: store-bought breads (white or wheat), white rice, white pastas, cereals, cookies, etc. and foods with added sugars. It is the refined carbs that contribute to Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain, and the list goes on.
Is it possible to lose weight by cutting carbs? Yes, especially when the carbs we eliminate are the breads, cookies, cereals, candy…you get the idea…and you replace them with extra vegetables, fruit and lean protein. Oh, and check out my prior post on making some very tasty vegetables!
“Eat your vegetables!” Mom