What Are Healthy Carbohydrate Choices?

In today’s post CDSF Registered Dietitian and Precision Nutrition Level 2 Coach Samantha Sirani sheds light on common misconceptions about carbohydrates and offers you some healthy carbohydrate choices.

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Carbohydrates often get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss and achieving fitness goals. First let’s take a look at some common misconceptions regarding carbohydrates:

  • Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which makes you gain body fat.
  • Carbs, especially sugar and grains, cause inflammation.
  • Carbs are not essential in your diet like fat and protein.

Although statements like those above are commonplace, they ignore the complex biology of the human body and the bigger picture when it comes to sustained weight loss.

Let’s take a closer look at these statements:

Do carbs increase insulin levels?

Yes

Does increased insulin after meals lead to gaining fat?

No, insulin helps us store and use glucose and signals satiety.

Are carbs inflammatory?

It depends what type of carbs we’re talking about. If we’re talking about processed corn syrup, probably. If we’re talking about whole grains, not really.

Can carb cutting work for weight loss?

Yes it can while also reducing your total number of calories. But, carb reduction does come at a cost. Most of us require some level of carbohydrate to function our best over the long term, especially if we exercise. Drastic carb restriction can lead to: decreased thyroid output, increased cortisol output, decreases testosterone, impaired mood and cognitive function, muscle catabolism, suppressed immune function, and likely a struggle losing weight over the long term.

Are carbs less important than protein and fat?

If we’re talking about processed carbs, yes. If we’re talking about whole, minimally processed carbs, then no.

What are these whole, minimally processed carbs?

Healthier carbohydrate choices include foods that are higher in fiber and have low glycemic index, meaning they take longer to digest and don’t cause sudden spikes in blood sugar and rather help sustain energy for longer periods of time. A few examples include:

  • Sweet Potatoes: 4g fiber/serving
  • Brown Rice: 3g fiber/serving
  • Oatmeal: 4g fiber/serving
  • Quinoa: 5g fiber/serving
  • Black Beans: 6g fiber/serving

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