Dieting Myth Carbohydrates Make You Gain Weight

Carbohydrates started to get a bad rap at the beginning the 21st century. In 2003, the Atkins Diet, a fad that some called one of the most popular crash diets, was everywhere in the news, in books and on product packaging. Brands across the country marketed their foods as “low-carb” or “no-carb” to capitalize on the millions of consumers who followed the dieting tips of this fad diet.

Are Carbs Actually Bad?

No, carbs are not overall bad. Just like fat, some carbohydrates are good and some are not as good. Eating mainly the former and only moderate amounts of the latter can help your body get the nutrients it needs. Your body breaks complex carbs down into glucose, which is used to fuel the cells in your body.

Not all carbs are created equally though. Be selective about the carbs you consume to get the most out of the foods you’re eating.

What are Good Carbs?

Complex carbohydrates, mainly fibers and some natural sugars, are healthy for your body. They include the nutrients your body needs, packaged in a way that takes your body some time and energy to burn. This means that you have a lower, but more consistent and stable, level of energy.

Complex carbs can be found in foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains.

What are Bad Carbs?

Bad carbohydrates tend to be highly processed foods, eliminating nutritional value and sometimes even containing additives that are detrimental to your health, like some preservatives or dyes. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate and, while present in complex carbs, tends to be a key ingredient of bad and not as good carbohydrates. High levels of sugar are bad for your body and your teeth.

Simple carbohydrates aren’t dangerous and eating them in moderation won’t harm your body. However, simple carbohydrates are quick burning so they don’t tend to sustain your body. You’ll feel hungry again sooner, which can lead you to eat more food than you would have if you’d consumed complex carbohydrates or protein.

Simple carbs can be found in foods like:

  • Baked goods
  • Fried pastries
  • Candy
  • Soft drinks
  • White bread.

Products with bad carbs tend to be high in sugar carbohydrates, low in fiber carbohydrates and often produced with high levels of butter and oils. In these cases, it’s not specifically the carbs that are bad for you but all the ingredients of the product.

Exercising for weight loss can help you counterbalance the effects of the carbs you eat.