To Carb or Not to Carb? Is that Really a Question?

Hi my name is Tara, and I’m an avid carb eater. The fact is, no matter how much you say you don’t eat carbs, you’re eating carbs. The problem is whether or not you are eating enough.

If you are like me, there is no question about it, the love for carbohydrates is too strong, they are delicious and I never want to part with them. I also believe there is a necessity for them and that many people are confused about what carbs really are and what they do.

So, what are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that our bodies metabolically break down into a usable form, glucose, which we use for energy. Carbohydrates, also referred to as sugars, are broken down into two major categories: complex and simple, which is determined on their chemical structure.

Complex carbohydrates, as their name suggests, are long, complex chains of sugar molecules. These carbs are slow to be digested and make up your whole grains, potatoes, beans, and even vegetables. Simple carbohydrates, unsurprisingly, are shorter, simpler chains of sugar molecules. Simple carbs are very rapidly digested and include foods such as milk, fruits, and any of your favorite sweet tooth addictions.

Why you should eat them.

  1. Your brain functions on glucose (which, stated above, is the product you get when you break down carbohydrates). Depriving your brain of glucose makes it difficult to make the proper neurotransmitters to function properly, leading to slower responses and thinking, sluggishness and can even make you feel less happy.
  2. Carbs are your body’s main source of energy. Yes, your body can run off of fat and protein, but carbs are always the first choice.
  3. They help keep you regular. That’s right, carbs high in fiber help you poop, and the more you do that, the less bloated you will look and feel!
  4. Eating carbs reduces heart disease. Studies show that whole grains and other fibrous carbs keep you at lower risk for heart problems and lower bad cholesterol!
  5. Happiness. Aside from the extra dopamine and serotonin being made in your brain that make you chemically happy, they’re also delicious. So why deny yourself?!

Why do carbs have such a bad reputation?

Carbohydrates that are low in fiber and high in simple sugars, tend to digest faster (candy, cake, soda, fruit juice — yes fruit juice!), leading to faster glucose production. If consumed in large amounts, your body will be over abundant in glucose energy that it cannot burn off and it will convert that extra glucose into long term storage, aka fat.* (And yes, even fruit juice is not as healthy as you think. Take the fiber out of fruit and what you have left is sugar. So while juice may have more vitamins than soda, it might contain a similar amount of sugar content.)

**CLARIFICATION: Eating anything in excess will inherently lead to fat/weight gain. Even if you eat a large amount of healthy carbs, if you have an excess calories (or energy — see calories post!) that do not get spent via activeness it will turn into fat. That’s why it is important to keep an active lifestyle as well as a balanced diet!

Have your carbs, and eat them too!

Don’t be afraid to eat carbs, just make smarter, more balanced choices: whole grains, high fiber, veggies! Whether you think you should eat more or not, that is really up to you, but PLEASE, next time you say you “NEVER eat carbs”, stop and think about what you’re actually putting in your body.