Most of us have a love-hate relationship with carbs. We love them, but they have such a bad name ever since the Atkins diet came along that we fear them. We have been taught that carbohydrates are making us fat and sluggish. We are taught that in order to “diet” we have to give up all carbs if we want to be successful. What if I told you this isn’t necessarily true?

Carbohydrates are actually a very important part of our day to day functions. They help fuel our body by making glucose, and they also provide our bodies with essential vitamins and minerals. The only catch is- not every carbohydrate is considered equal. I’m sure you have heard of “good” carbs and “bad” carbs, and there’s a reason why. Bad carbohydrates like donuts, white bread, and candy have little to no value and should be avoided at all cost.

Simple Carbohydrates

These bad carbohydrates are also known as “simple,” because they are easier for your body to digest. Simple carbohydrates are made up of one or two sugar molecules that are very easily digested. Because they are digested so quickly, they end up causing a huge spike in your blood sugar after eating them. The spike turns to a downfall, which is the very well known sugar crash you experience after eating junk.

The main problem with simple carbs is that we are eating way too many of them. We are only supposed to be eating 6-9 teaspoons of sugar a day, yet the average American consumes up to 20 teaspoons! We all know the risks of too much sugar: obesity, diabetes, and heart disease become way more possible when you are eating too much sugar.

Complex Carbohydrates

These are the good carbohydrates. They are good because they take longer for our bodies to digest. They get the name “complex” because the sugar chains are long and complex in these kinds of carbs, which is why it takes longer to digest them. Since they are digested so slowly, the blood sugar is more of a gradual, steady output rather than a huge peak. This helps us have energy throughout the day long after eating, with no crash at the end.

Complex carbs are found in foods like whole grains and some starchy vegetables. Not only do complex carbs help give you energy at a steady rate, but they are also known to lower the risk for many different diseases like Type II diabetes, stroke, heart disease and some cancers. You should be getting 45%-60% of your calories from complex carbs, if you want to function the best you can. If you get too few carbs you will notice that you will have less energy, and even muscle loss.

I know it’s tempting to get rid of all carbohydrates when you are trying to lose weight. All the advertisements and diet magazines are telling us that carbs are the enemy. I hope you realize how important carbs are, and why your body needs them. Carbs can be very good for your body as long as you are getting the right kinds. When you do it right, your body will let you know. Eating the right amount of complex carbs will leave you feeling amazing while helping you reach your fitness goals.

DSC_1631 (2)By: Gabrielle Pfeiffer