CARBS: Good or Bad?

bread

By Kristin Yancy

When it comes to health talk, I think it’s safe to say that carbohydrates are the Kim Kardashian of food gossip. Are carbs the only thing standing between you and that perfect bikini bod? Or are they the original energy bar, protecting an active girl from a potential half-crazed, t-rex style calorie fest? The answer, Flygyals, is both– and it all depends on what you’re eating.  Here’s how to tell the good guys from the bad:

Fiber

If no one has told you yet, let me be the first: fiber is the secret to keeping your stomach from grumbling and your daily diet on track. Fiber naturally slows down the absorption of the other nutrients eaten during your meal, keeping you feeling fuller longer and your body using carbohydrates at a steady, consistent pace. Opting for carbohydrates high in fiber is the number one way to make sure your carb intake is contributing to a healthier you.

Color

Generally speaking, the more refined your foods are the ‘whiter’ they will be, and the less fiber they will contain, e.g. white bread, white rice, white tortillas, regular boxed pastas. An easy way to make smart choices about your carbohydrate intake is by switching to whole grains whenever possible. Go for whole grain buns and bread when you’re in the mood for a sandwich, and look for brown rice and wheat pastas come dinnertime (or try quinoa pasta, a yummy superfood version of this classic staple!).

Percent Daily Value

According to WebMD, the suggested healthy diet for active women under 50 is one in which your calorie intake is made up of 45-65% carbohydrates– which includes ~30 grams of fiber– 20-35% fat, and 10-35% protein. Eating carbohydrates that contribute to your daily fiber intake is a smarter choice than eating carbohydrates with fewer nutrients and more refined, processed, or added sugars.

Sugars

Unbeknownst to many, Americans are eating more sugars than ever before. Many “low fat” food options available today have substituted  fat for various forms of sugar– sucrose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, and sorbitol are all names of sugars you may see on the back of the label. The best way to fill your diet with healthy sugars is with fresh, whole foods, which by themselves contain enough simple and complex sugars to give your body the energy it needs, without the extra pounds.

Shopping for Carbs

For those of you quick shoppers who want to avoid looking at the back of every box you pick up on a food run, here’s a cheat sheet for the healthy carbohydrates (outside of natural fruits and vegetables) you can keep in your diet:

1.)   Whole Wheat Pasta

2.)   Quinoa

3.)   Barley (eat it in soups or try it as a substitute for rice or risotto)

4.)   Wheat Berries (for beginners, try the recipes here)

5.)   Popcorn! (A great healthy snack; check out more Flygyal snack foods here)

Thanks again to the Huffington Post and WebMD for some great healthy reading!
Photo via Joya Martin.
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