Carbohydrates (carbs) are sugars that provide the body with energy.  Everyone needs carbs. They are necessary for good long-term health and brain function.

It is best not to eat carbs that are highly processed (doughnuts, breads, bagels, and sweets). It is more beneficial to eat fresh, whole plant foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

What Are Good Carbs?

Good carbohydrate foods are those that are still in their natural state, or they are still similar to their natural state. They are foods that have not been processed or altered by people or machines.

Good carbohydrates are generally high in fiber. Foods high in fiber will give you energy over longer periods of time. They also give you a sense of feeling full. Foods that are high in fiber help to lower cholesterol levels, as well as aiding the body in toxin removal.

Good carbohydrates generally have a low glycemic index. Foods with a low glycemic index will not cause a spike in blood sugar. This is especially important for diabetics who have to constantly monitor their blood glucose levels.

Good carbohydrates are nutritious. Good carbohydrates are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Examples of good carbohydrate foods:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • beans
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grain breads
  • whole grain cereals
  • whole grain pastas
  • some dairy products

What are bad carbs?

Bad carbohydrate foods are those that have been refined and processed. These foods are not in their natural state. Most of the nutritional value has been removed from these foods. Bad carbohydrate foods are generally loaded with many additives, including colorings, flavorings and preservatives.

Most bad carbohydrate foods are usually very tasteful and are packaged for easy handling. However, they are generally considered harmful to the body because they are not easily digested and they spike an individual’s blood glucose level. Bad carbohydrate foods include candy, alcohol, baked goods with refined white flour, white pastas, and sodas.

If you eat too many bad carbohydrates, you will most probably gain weight. The calories are “empty” and they have no nutritional value. Individuals who have a lifestyle of eating bad carbs are more at risk to develop diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more.

An individual who eats many bad carbs will notice a spike in their energy levels shortly after consumption. However, energy levels will generally fall off rapidly prompting the individual to consume more bad carbs.

What are slow carbs?

Slow carbs are foods that are low-glycemic and do not spike your blood sugar or insulin when you eat them. Most plant foods are slow carbs. Slow carbs are very good for you. They are high in nutrients and fiber.

How to calculate net carbs?

To calculate net carbs, take the total number of carbohydrates a product contains and subtract fiber and sugar alcohols because these types of carbohydrates are thought to have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. An example would be Total Carbohydrates – (fiber content + sugar alcohols).

Carbs and calories

A calorie (pronounced cal-er-ee) is a measure of how much energy that protein, carbohydrates, and fat can supply your body. The number of calories in a food is a measure of how much potential energy that food will provide for your body.

Different types of nutrients have different amounts of calories.

  • 1 gram of protein has 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat has 9 calories
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories

How many calories do you need?

The number of calories needed is different for every person. Your height, weight, gender, age and activity level affects your caloric needs.

Your complete caloric needs is a sum of your:

  • Energy needed to function at rest (60 to 70% of your daily calories). Men usually need more energy to function at rest than women do.
  • Energy needed for physical activity. The more physical activities you perform, the more daily calories you will need.
  • Energy needed to burn food. Food has to be digested and some people require more energy to digest food than others.

If you are interested in determining how many calories you need to consume each day, you should contact your nutritionist.

Fun ways to burn calories

  • Sex
  • Tidy up your garden
  • Go out dancing with your friends