There is a lot of debate happening these days on the topic of carbohydrates. The advent of diets like the popular keto and low-carb diets has amplified those discussions. The truth of the matter is this. The debate isn’t that cut and dried.
There are two kinds of carbohydrates: good and bad. Whole, unprocessed carbohydrates are considered good carbohydrates, whereas refined carbohydrates are considered bad. Learning to discern the difference between the two is the trick.
Good carbohydrates (or whole, unprocessed carbs) have the whole of their nutrients intact and have been minimally altered. Their nutritional value has a high impact. Some examples of whole, unprocessed carbs are bananas, sweet potatoes, brown rice, yucca, dates, and legumes.
Bad carbs (or refined carbohydrates) are those that have no fiber present. These carbs have been altered. The processing methods used to refine these carbohydrates strips the food of key vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Examples of refined (or bad) carbs include processed fruit drinks, white flour, white rice, white pasta, and pastries.
Consuming refined carbohydrates leads to a constant state of blood sugar fluctuation, which directly impacts our energy levels and performance during the day. Conversely, consuming good carbs helps to fuel the body and can help boost your metabolism and cardiovascular health.
Additionally, bananas, dates, and buckwheat (all considered good carbs) are choke-full of vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
So, how many carbohydrates should someone consume in a day? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests 45 to 65 percent of our total daily calories should come from carbohydrates. That puts it at about 225–325 grams per day. For those of us trying to slim down that number drops to 100–150 grams of good carbs a day or 15 to 30 percent of our total daily calories.
In the end, whole, unprocessed carbohydrates can be very nourishing and valuable for our health and performance. It’s about emphasizing a “quality over quantity” mindset that will make the difference.
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