Eek! Aah! Run the other way! Carbs are coming! Carbohydrates have certainly gotten a bad rap over the past decade. With the soaring popularity of low-carb diets such as South Beach and Atkins, you’d think that carbs were the enemy — or at least the sole culprit behind weight gain and other health problems. But in fact, carbohydrates are a very important part of a balanced diet: Carbs are one of the big three “macronutrients” your body needs to function (the other two are protein and fat), and they provide the body with the energy it needs to run efficiently. Erasing them from your diet can actually have an adverse effect on your energy level and mood.
Not all carbohydrates are created equal, though. Some carbs, like white bread, baked goods and white rice, are unhealthy if eaten in large quantities — time to kick the morning muffin habit. Consuming large amounts of these types of carbs not only results in weight gain, but it can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, because processed carbohydrates are absorbed rapidly and usually cause you to eat more. So what’s the good news? Whole grains can actually improve your health and boost weight-loss efforts by helping you lose more “belly fat” — a recent study showed that following a low-calorie diet high in whole grains caused more abdominal fat loss than the same diet with processed carbs. And since fat in your middle is the worst fat out there (contributing to diabetes, heart disease and other problems), extra help in getting rid of it is a good thing.
Learning how to choose the good carbs over the bad can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your mood and give you more energy. Score one for the carb-addicted!