After watching a home improvement show on television, I was left with the impression that carbohydrate foods were taboo. The realtor bad-mouthed carbs and refused to even taste a small bite of a cracker, because it was “carbs.” The message that stuck in my head was not about decorating or shiplap or landscaping. Instead, if I wanted to be as beautiful and successful as she, I should shun carbohydrate foods.
Many people think carbs are the enemy. They are not. There is room in a person’s meal plan to include carbohydrate foods. In fact 50 to 60 percent of the total calories in a healthy diet usually come from carbohydrate sources.
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are the three major nutrients in our food. Vitamins and minerals are the extras in our food. Not every food has the same vitamins and minerals, but the majority of food contains a combination of carbohydrates, fats or proteins.
Still, some people consider carbs as the enemy. The Atkins diet and the Keto plan forbid eating most carbs. In fact, any more than 60 grams of carbohydrate foods in one day is considered more than enough.
In reality, if 50 percent of calories come from carbohydrate choices and there are four calories per gram in carbohydrate food, then 60 grams equals 240 calories. With some multiplication, that is only 480 total daily calories, which is totally unrealistic.
Someone with a need of approximately 1,800 calories to maintain their weight and energy level requires about 900 calories (50 percent) from carbohydrate sources. If I divide 900 by 4, this equals 225 grams of carbohydrate food, not 60.
The diets that limit carbohydrate intake to a quarter of what is recommended leave a lot to be desired. There are vitamins and minerals that predominately come from carbohydrate sources. Limiting carbohydrate foods limits the valuable vitamins and minerals.
Carbohydrate sources are not just potatoes, bread and pastas. There are carbohydrates in fruit and milk products, too. The fewer refined sugars, the more vitamins and minerals. A high fiber content in a product will result in less digestible carbohydrates and often with additional vitamins and minerals, which is a healthy way to go.
For clarification, healthier carbohydrates or good carbs list whole grains as an ingredient, whole grain cereals, bread and pasta; also beans and legumes; fruit; all root vegetables like potatoes and carrots; as well as, milk and yogurt.
Less healthy carbohydrate foods or bad carbs are simple sugars eaten to an excess. The ingredient list uses words like sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit juice concentrates just to name a few. Fruit juice becomes a excess of carbohydrates when the portions are bigger than a 4 ounce or a half cup serving.
Limit processed foods and foods that are high in sugar instead of avoiding carbs altogether. Not all carbs are bad. Television personalities should stick to what they know best and rely on nutrition experts for healthy meal plans.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]