Good vs. Bad Carbs – What is the difference?!

Today we are going to talk all things carbohydrates! Why?! Because lately I’ve noticed that every other person I talk to about nutrition is either a) under the impression they should not be eating ANY carbs, b) love carbs and cringe at the word “diet” because they think they’ll never be able to eat a slice of pizza ever again, and c) think that carbs are the devil food, source of all evil and should be avoided at all cost.


So first let’s answer this simple question…


What are carbohydrates?


They are a food group consisting of sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits and vegetables, as well as grains (rice, oats) and dairy products. Carbs are very important macronutrients NEEDED by the body to carry out vital functions.


Carbs, when broken down into glucose are preferred sources of energy because they are easily accessible and can supply the fuel needed for normal bodily processes. They also prevent the breakdown of protein, thus preserving lean body mass, and help the body absorb nutrients, get rid of excess waste and keep your colon healthy (hello fiber!)


So why are some people so afraid of eating carbs?? And why do others think that eating healthy means eliminating carbs all together and shy away from practicing good eating habits?


My hypothesis is deceptive marketing and increased consumerism… On one hand you have mass fast food chain attempts to have you (the consumer) indulge highly processed carb-overload products like supersized fries and chocolate fudge brownies containing excess of sugar and no other nutritional value; and, on the other side you have a gimmicky weight loss fad advertisers telling you ALL carbs are BAD, solely responsible for weight gain and all your other life problems!


The Good Carbs


The good carbohydrates you want to add to your meals are fruits, veggies and starches (grains and starchy vegetables).


Believe it or not fruits and veggies are in the carb category, and you already know that they are super healthy and good for you! On top of providing your body with fuel and fiber, they contain a ton of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) responsible for many crucial metabolic processes such as energy production, cell division, the growth, maintenance and function of our brains, heart, immune system, lungs, bones etc. So load up on your fave fruits and veggies and be sure to eat up!


Another source good carbs you should incorporate in your diet are starches.


This means whole grains and starchy vegetables including but not limited to: sweet potatoes, corn, parsnips, zucchini, beets, quinoa, brown rice, barley and whole oats.


Notice that these foods are also a great carb choice because they contain fiber, vitamins and minerals and provide your body with energy. Due to the fact grains and starches are a little higher in a caloric value, if you’re aiming to lose fat and trim down, we recommend adding 1 serving size of those with your meals. This means approximately


1 handful of starches and whole grains for women and 2 palm-fulls for males.


The “Bad” Carbs


Ahh now we’re onto the “bad” or “not so great” carbs that we want to limit, cut back on or avoid if your goal is to get into a healthy eating groove and maintain or lose excess fat.


The bad carbs include anything that is processed, comes in box, or contains an ingredient that you’re not able to pronounce like “maltodextrin” or some other unnatural food additive that your body simply doesn’t need.


Examples of processed foods in the carb category include bread (even whole grain), cereals (bye bye fruit loops), granola bars, pasta and noodles, bleached flours, and snacks like chips, crackers and cookies.


A good portion of these foods contain broken down ingredients that are easily absorbed into the blood stream causing high sugar spikes, and fill your body with excess calories due to the added sugars and other crap that they contain. If you eat processed carbs once in a while and have them in moderation (2-4 times per week in small portions), they probably won’t have a huge effect on your diet and you can still enjoy them as treats. However, if eating processed, refined carbs is part of your daily routine and you’re wondering why the numbers on the scale are not coming down, you may want to alter your portions, incorporate more “good carbs” into your diet, and balance out your meals with protein and good fats so that you’re feeling full, satisfied and not craving the junk.


Hopefully you find this information helpful and are now better informed about what carbs are, what they really do to your body, so you can make better food choices and reject the notion that “all carbs are bad.”
If you want to learn more, need help with exercise, nutrition or anything health related, be sure to hit us up at
-Coach Jojo

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