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The Good, The Bad, The Evil?

On numerous occasions, clients ask me about the role of carbohydrates in diet plans. Many of these questions rewind to previous diet experiences. The hype around the rich and famous swearing by dietary strategies without carbs. In short, the overall assumption that carbs are simply “evil”. 

Are they evil?

Well, it depends.

With diet plans such as Keto and Atkins diets profusely maintain a stance in lowering carbs to an absolute minimum, the stigma surrounding carbohydrates intake revolves primarily around the type of carbs we take in.

The concept that carbs are the source for weight gain and are found exclusively in sweets, pasta, bakery, sweetened yoghurt and anything on a label with some unpronounceable name. The science behind it connects consuming such carbs to the worldwide trend of “body part expansions in the wrong regions”.

But we still need carbs. Or don’t we?

From a pure macronutrient point of view, simple carbs are the ones that mainly conjure this trigger of putting on weight. And this includes any types of sugar. Calorie-rich with little to no nutritional value, these factory-produced food sources are quickly absorbed into our intestines before being used for energy.

Now, I have to make a clear distinction between simple carbs from natural sources and those carbs with little resemblance left of where they came from (try to find whole grains in white bread, good luck!). Yes, it is a bit more complex.

When looking for the better carbs, the goal is to head for the complex carbohydrates. These include fibre and starch-rich foods (vegetables, potatoes), whole grains (brown rice, grains), peas and beans, to name a few. These sources are less calorie dense, digest slower, and often come with beneficial passengers such as vitamins and minerals.

Our body thrives best on these foods and fuels our brain, nervous system and its function for healthy muscles. A quick summary of what carbs can do to make you thrive.

When training actively, carbohydrates may become an essential part of your caloric intake. For example, a better recovery, replenish energy and contributing to balancing out hormones, such as insulin, put the spotlight on adding carbs to your pre/post workout diet. 

While the body is clever enough to use other sources to replenish energy when carbohydrate intake is low, the overall concept that there are only “bad” carbohydrates is a misnomer. It all depends on what your ultimate goal is. Taking fewer foods with certain carbohydrates to lose weight may be an excellent starting point.

But knowing which ones to take in moderation, cutting out in larger amounts, or even increase…it all depends.

If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food. | Errick McAdams

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