Carbohydrates are a valuable source of energy.
Carbohydrates get negative attention for causing weight gain, but in reality they are a valuable source of energy. One gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories (the same amount that is in 1 gram of protein). Carbohydrates are broken down by the body into glucose, which is used for energy. The reason carbohydrates are often recognized as unhealthy is that many high-calorie foods (such as baked goods) contain a high amount of carbohydrates.
Quality is important.
All carbohydrates are not equal. Simple or refined varieties (such as white flour and sugar) are digested quickly and cause a spike in blood sugar that causes hunger and cravings. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and do not cause a large blood sugar spike. They also provide the body with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
It’s easy to overdo it.
For adults, carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of total calories each day. Carbohydrates are plentiful in convenient snacks and quick meals (such as crackers, sandwiches and pizza). This makes it easy to quickly load up on carbohydrates and calories while sacrificing vitamins, minerals, high-quality protein, and hearty-healthy fats.
Bread and pasta are not the only sources.
Try to avoid the white, refined breads and pastas. Instead, the majority of your carb intake should be composed of nutritious, complex carbohydrates like the following:
- brown rice
- cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower)
- leafy greens
- sweet potatoes
- wheat berries