Carbs Carbs Carbs!
Carbohydrates, or carbs, provide us with energy and we are surrounded by them. Yet, with a diabetes diagnosis I think it’s really common to want to avoid carbs or think that carbs are bad. I know I definitely went through my “no-carb” eating stage. I thought it was healthier at that time and would be easier for me to lose weight.
One in three adults admits to cutting down or completely avoiding carbs in an effort to “slim down”, feel energized, and beat disease.
With so many FAD diets coming in and out of our lives, it’s common to want to jump on the bandwagon and see what these diets are all about. Just to name a few – the Atkins diet, the Paleo diet, Gluten-Free diet, the Blood Type diet…. it’s no wonder we have all become some fearful of carbohydrates on our plate. What ever happened to plain old balanced eating?
With anything, if you abuse it — you never win.
Eating too many carbs, especially highly processed carbs, isn’t good for anyone. The reason that carbs get such a bad rap is because the extra sugar available from the glucose molecule later gets converted into fat if the body doesn’t need it for energy. However, that’s on you, not the carbs. If you exercise, the sugar from carbohydrates won’t get stored as fat.
Case in point: Carbs don’t make you fat.
These days we’re shunning bread baskets and passing on starchy vegetables in records numbers. Next time, you might want to think twice before you pass on those potatoes or push aside that sandwich. One doctor said it best — David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and author of Disease-Proof. says “All plants are carbohydrate sources, so eating no carbs means eating no plant foods, period.”
Carbs give us energy. Energy gives us life. Life makes everything complete. Yet so many of us seem to have a love-hate relationship with carbs. Pasta doesn’t make you gain weight unless you don’t balance energy in vs energy out. Pizza doesn’t have to be a forbidden food and rice can be incorporated into your daily meals. It literally comes down to portions. We forget what a portion is and in some ways I don’t think that’s our fault. The marketing of fast food and most restaurant plate portions have expanded vastly – and so have our waistlines.
As mentioned before, carbs are widely found in vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and legumes. In fact, plant foods are our #1 source for dietary fiber. To think about it in a different way — Carbs can be divided into three groups: sugar, starches, and fiber. Natural sugar, like the kind found in fruits and vegetables, represents the simplest form of carbohydrates, and it may be obtained in three forms: lactose, sucrose, and fructose. Starches are those sugar units bonded together, and naturally occurring starch can be found in rice, beans, peas, and other grains. Fiber is also made of bonded sugar, and fiber occurs in vegetables, whole grains, dry beans, and more.
All three groups of carbs are good for us! What matters the most is portion control.
It’s known that people who eat more fiber have less cardiovascular disease and seem to weigh less and gain less weight over time. Not to mention, skipping carbs could mean falling short on essential nutrients and possibly over-eating at your next meal. Eliminating whole grains means your body is not getting essential vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, magnesium and B vitamins.
Wondering how many carbohydrates you need? There is no one-size-fits-all meal plan. Each individual is different and requires different energy loads based on age, height, weight and activity level.
Here are my simple recommendations:
Women: aim for 30-45 grams total carbohydrate at each meal. This is about the size of your fist or one cup equivalent.
Men: aim for 45-60 grams total carbohydrate at each meal.
For men and women: snacks may contain 15 grams of carbohydrate or less.
So by all means, eat up! Just find the right balance for you and your workout routines. Need help? Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Let’s get the conversation started…