Created by the Healthline experts for Greatist. Read more
Food trends are very similar to school friendships. One day you're in, the next you're outside. Unfortunately that was the experience of our friend, the lonely carburetor. Nobody seems to want to have lunch with them anymore.
With the popularity of Atkins, Paleo, gluten free and now Keto, we have seen an almost complete rejection of carbohydrates when it comes to health and fitness.
The reality, however, is that carbs are not the devils to which wellness blogs have made them. They are the top fuel and a first-class snack for the body and brain.
You just have to know which one to keep. There are three main types of carbohydrates: starch, fiber and sugar.
While some sugars are naturally occurring and are associated with beneficial fiber ̵
We can all probably benefit from being moderate in terms of our intake of refined carbohydrates.
Refined or "simple" carbohydrates
These are carbohydrates that either:
- naturally contain little fiber and nutrients
- were processed in a way that dissolves fiber, vitamins and minerals
. Without This beneficial fiber increases blood sugar and insulin faster and makes us hungry again soon after eating. Refined carbohydrates can be further classified as sugars and refined grains.
Contained in pastries, cakes and pies, sweets, soda and biscuits – Sugars are often refined in trade or added to foods to make them sweeter and extend their shelf life or improve consistency.
Studies have linked excessive sugar intake, especially with sugary drinks, to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men to consume them. Do not take more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day and women only 6 teaspoons.
The official US guidelines suggest that sugar should be limited to only 10 percent of daily calories. For a 2000 calorie diet that would be about 50 grams per day.
To put these figures in perspective, one pack of Reese peanut butter cups (also known as two small cups) contains 22 grams of sugar.
That's nearly half of a woman's total sugar content for the day * Add Kim a weeping face * and two-thirds of a man's sugar content.
Grains in their entire unadulterated form are strong sources of food and fiber.
Unfortunately, most of the grains in the average American diet were ground and processed so that the beneficial bran and germs are removed.
These processed grains end in white bread, gin, corn meal, white rice, white noodles and sweetened cereal.
Processing can extend the shelf life of grains (not to mention a soft, pillowy mouthfeel), it also removes fiber, healthy fat, iron and B vitamins.
Research has shown that adherence to whole-grain products with the above compounds still intact can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
It could even help extend your life span (hellooo centenarian club).
It will be a bit scientific – but stay with us.
When we consume refined carbohydrates that are free of digestive fiber or fat, disaccharides (sugars such as sucrose, lactose or maltose) are rapidly broken down into easily absorbable monosaccharides (also known as blood sugar-tip glucose).
As this sugar quickly enters the blood, the pancreas produces insulin, which opens our cells. Like a metaphorical garage door opener to release the sugar for energy or storage.
Without protein, fiber or fat, our cells are supplied with sugar very quickly, resulting in an energy boost followed by the dreaded crash.
While you are fighting against fluctuations in energy levels, you might also be very hungry shortly after eating.
This is one of the main reasons why eating refined carbohydrates is associated with increased appetite, weight gain and waist circumference.
A 2019 study found that participants who received an ultra-processed, high-carbohydrate diet consumed an additional 500 calories more than participants who received whole-grain products.
A meta-analysis of studies and articles over a full 40-year period found that people who ate more fiber and whole grains had a lower body weight, cholesterol, and a 15 to 30 percent lower mortality rating.
So you know that this box of half-stale donuts in the staff room and the oversized Frappuccino contain refined carbohydrates, but you may be surprised that refined carbohydrates lurk in unsuspecting "healthy foods."
When reading nutritional labels, it's important to look beyond the carbohydrates or even the "sugar" on the label.
While the FDA has recently updated its nutrition labeling guidelines to specifically state "added sugar," some food manufacturers will need to meet the requirements by 2021.
Until then, it's up to you to do research work with these ingredient lists.
When deciphering your grains, look for the words "whole grains" at the top of the ingredient list. Words such as "wheat," "brown," or "enriched" may carry a health halo, but they may still correspond to a refined carbohydrate product.
For secret sugars, look for words ending in "-ose," such as sucrose, maltose, or fructose, together with syrup, nectar, honey, and fruit juice concentrate.
Low-fat or dietary This is one of the most surprising sources of refined carbohydrates, as food manufacturers often need to add sugar when removing fat to improve taste and texture.
For this reason, low-fat products tend to have more sugar than their full-fledged fat counterparts.
Given the fact that healthy fat actually has a positive effect on the blood sugar response, we recommend using a full-fat product whenever possible.
This creamy, thick soup is often used with a "roux" (also known as a high-fat blend of butter and refined white flour or corn strength).
Make your own creamy soup by pureeing it can of white beans or lentils for an extra dose of protein and fiber.
Sauces, sauces and salad dressings
Like soups, many sauces and sauces are thickened with white flour or cornstarch. Also so-called "spicy" sauces and dressings contain added sugar and corn syrup.
Thicken your sauces with whole wheat flour or pureed root vegetables and use naturally fruity vinegar like apple cider vinegar in dressings to avoid the need for extra sugar.
Yoghurt and fruit are amazing Most fruit-flavored yoghurts contain about 12g of sugar per 100g, and a standard yoghurt bowl holds 150-170g of the product. Buyers beware.
Add some sweetened, store-bought cereal, and your breakfast is fast for dessert.
Make your own high-fiber, low-sugar parfait by combining Greek whole milk yoghurt for protein and fat, a handful of fresh berries and a pinch of cereal or nuts based on fiber-rich bran.
Muesli Bars, Power Bars, and Protein Bars
Most commercial bars are offered as a healthy on-the-go option for adults and children and are intended for athletes, not for 3pm at your desk.
Many of the most popular options on the market contain up to 22 grams of added sugar, which yields almost the entire recommended amount of sugar for the day.
Make your own home-cooked bar with a combination of nuts, oatmeal, nut butter, and some dried fruit to get a more satiating and stable carbohydrate dose.
However, dried fruits can also contain a lot of extra sugar. So choose to dehydrate your own sugar or look for the "no extra sugar" label. Do not think too much about the carbohydrates as you're the massive load of fat, but this crunchy crust is probably not whole wheat.
Skip the removal and whip your own chicken nuggets or fish strips with whole grain oats, wholemeal flour or almond flour.
Smoothies have great nutritional potential, but many commercial smoothie bars make them more like milkshakes than a well-balanced meal in a glass.
Thanks to a combination of fruit juice and sweetened frozen yoghurt, some fruit-based smoothies can contain between 50 and 65 grams of sugar. Yikes!
Make yourself comfortable at home by adding frozen berries, nut butters and Greek yogurt to a nutritious snack.
If you want to forgo refined carbohydrates in your diet, give your number One goal should be to generally cook and eat more whole foods.
In this way, you can reduce some of the added sugars and refined grains that are found in many processed foods.
When selecting bread, pasta, rice, quinoa and oats, swap refined grains with their wholemeal counterparts.
If your family finds it difficult to make the switch, replace some of your grains with fiber-rich vegetables to help stretch your strength.
For example, zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice can reduce your carbohydrate content and add a ton of fiber and antioxidants while reducing calories and refined carbohydrates.
For sugars, you should use fruit to sweeten snacks and desserts instead of relying on syrups or sweeteners.
Ripe bananas can replace much of the sugar in baked muffins or breads amazing jam with no added sugar.
- Carbohydrates are macronutrients that provide our body with a plethora of nutrients and energy.
- Selecting unrefined whole grains and foods with no added sugar while combined with a fiber, protein or fat source will help you reap their energetic benefits without the nasty blood sugar spike.