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Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs


If you've been advised to avoid carbohydrates, then you may want to think twice. While cutting carbs can be a great way to reduce your caloric intake, there are several reasons why excluding them altogether can be not only ineffective but detrimental to your health.

The tendency to view all carbohydrates as bad is an unfortunate by-product of society's obsession with fitness. Once a nutrient is given a negative label, it becomes very difficult to change the way that people see it. In lumping carbohydrates together, today's popular no-carb diets have set up a false choice between carbs and no-carbs, and it is this all-or-nothing approach that has so many people spinning their proverbial wheels.

Fortunately, with a little practice, you can learn to tell the good carbs from the comparatively bad carbs, which will bring you one step closer to achieving your goals.

Good Carb, Bad Carb

A carb can be defined as good or bad according to the rate at which it releases energy. Slow-burning, or complex carbs are considered good because they provide a constant supply of energy throughout the day. Simple, fast-burning carbs like sugars and starches are considered bad because they raise blood sugar levels. This, in turn, triggers the release of insulin to bring those levels back down. The resulting crash saps you of your energy and makes physical activity that much more difficult.

Since carbs fuel vital organs like the brain, eating too few of them can have a negative effect on memory and concentration. A lack of carbohydrates will also cause the body to burn protein for energy, which affects your muscles' ability to recover after exercise. Add dehydration, and you're looking at a possible trip to the emergency room.

If you're eating too many carbohydrates, then by all means, cut back. No one thinks you should continue drinking sugar-filled sodas. If you're eating complex carbs such as brown rice, whole grain bread and whole wheat pasta, then cutting back further may not be something that you want to do.

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