What are healthy carbs? This is a question that haunts not only the fitness world, but society in general. Low carb diets, high carb diets, and everything in between has been recommended for weight loss.
What Are Carbs?
Carbohydrates are “any group of chemical compounds including sugars, starches and fiber, containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen with a 2:1 hydrogen-to-oxygen atom ratio.”- Frederick Hatfield, PhD.
This definition is pretty technical, but the gist of carbohydrates is that they are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and they come from foods such as potatoes, fruits, honey, vegetables, grains, etc. Fruits and vegetables are carbs. Quinoa and brown rice are carbs. Pasta and baked potatoes are carbs.
Why Do We Need Carbs?
So why exactly do we need carbs? Our bodies NEED healthy carbs because they are our primary source of energy. Our bodies want to use carbohydrates as a source of energy first and foremost. The body only turns to burning fats and proteins as energy after it has burned through the carb stores. So lower carbs means more fat burn then! WRONG. Your body will chew up fats and then your next source of energy is that hard-earned muscle.
Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This is 4 units of energy per gram of carbohydrate. Since carbohydrates are not a calorie dense food like fats, you can consume more of them. More carbs, but not an overload of carbs, will lead to kick ass energy levels and that hard body you have been sweating for.
What Are Healthy Carbs?
This is where the going really gets tough! Healthy carbs are a misunderstood concept for many reasons. We have all heard that brown rice is better for you than white rice and sweet potato is better than white potato. What healthy carbs really come down to is what they do for your body. Healthy carbs come from whole food sources. These whole food sources include things like white rice and white potatoes. Unhealthy carbs come from processed crap like candy, many granola bars, concentrated fruit products, etc. If you stick to whole grains, fresh fruits, and fresh veggies, your healthy carbs are all accounted for.
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