Carbs have had a bad reputation in the health and fitness industry for what feels like forever. We've been given numerous messages about how terrible they are. Messages like: carbs cause weight gain. And another one of our favorites: carbs are bad for your health. These statements (and all of the fear rhetoric) is simply untrue. Like with everything for optimal health and wellness, it always comes down to one thing: balance.
First, it's essential to pinpoint what type of carbs we're talking about. Carbohydrates are, by definition, "the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products." Not only are they necessary to our diet, but they are found in many of the things we eat—not just bread and pasta.
Refined carbs are what we want to stay away from. These are the processed carbs made from white flour, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. These foods are depleted of any vitamins and nutrients, and they are virtually empty calories. Think pizza, fast-food hamburger buns, white bread, and pastries. Delicious to our taste buds, but not a great source of fuel.
Unprocessed carbohydrates are entirely different from refined carbs, though. Many are high in fiber and contain essential nutrients. For example, legumes carry a ton of iron, B-vitamins, and zinc. Beans are also a good source of protein and soluble fiber. Other unprocessed carbohydrates—like whole grains (quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, etc.)—help regulate blood sugar and regulate weight.
Vegetables and fruits are two other groups that have foods high in carbohydrates. These foods are also excellent for your diet and health. Take sweet potatoes, for example. One sweet potato (medium-sized) has around 23 grams of carbohydrates. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium, vitamins, and even antioxidants. Plus they are delicious!
There are two messages to take away here. First: understand the difference between processed and unprocessed carbs. One group isn't great for your health while the other aids your diet, and even your weight loss goals in many ways.
Second: embrace balance. Eradicating anything from your plate, whether it be protein, carbs, or fats, isn't sustainable for achieving a healthy lifestyle— everything in moderation.