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Are Carbs Really Bad For Me, And Why?
4/15/2015 6:45:59 PM

Yes, carbohydrates really are bad for you. They are also not only good for you, but essential to your daily health.

Paradox? No, because what most people fail to appreciate about carbohydrates is that they really come in two forms. There are the complex carbohydrates, which are the variety found in the "leafy" vegetables, and there are the simple carbohydrates, that are found in most of the convenience foods that we enjoy so much today. You can find a thorough exploration of this top in Carolyn Hansen's book:

It is the latter type of carbohydrates, the simple kind, that are so bad for us. Not because they are chemically very distinct from the complex kind, but because they are rapidly digested by the body and are far more easily converted into fat than the complex carbohydrate. In fact, we could graze on complex carbohydrates (eat them almost nonstop, like cows do) and we would probably end up losing weight because we had displaced the simple carbs from our diet.

The only real difference between the two carbohydrate forms is that the complex variety is essentially very long strings of the simple variety. Your body cannot digest complex carbohydrates immediately. It first has to break them down into very short strings before significant absorption into the wall of the gut can take place. Meanwhile the food is making its way out of your system. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates have already been broken down into short "strings of sugar" before entering the body. Therefore it only takes a few minutes for simple carbs to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

So when you chow down on the last two iced-donuts left in the tea room after morning break you are flooding your body with simple sugars. This is the "rise in blood sugar" that always has diabetics so concerned. When blood sugar rises too much, the body secretes insulin to mop up the excess and convert it into fat for use at a later date. This is why eating sugary food quickly leads to weight gain, especially around the midsection if you are a man, and the hips, thighs, and butt if you are a woman.

Sugar is added in abundance to all of the "sweet tooth" items you can think of: cookies, cakes, candy, donuts, bagels (and any other "bready" snack). But it does not stop there. Today there is a growing obsession with low fat foods, and the problem with removing fat from foods that naturally contain it is that they lose a good part of their taste.

So the makers of low fat yoghurt and milk are left with two alternatives: (1) lose customers who decide they no longer enjoy the low fat versions of their favorite foods, or (2) add sugar and other taste enhancers to offset the loss of taste. Well, you can guess which option appeals most to the food marketers. They up the calorie count of their products to offset the fat loss. So their supposed "healthy low fat" products are not nearly so healthy as they would have you believe.

So beware. When you are looking at the food labels, forget about the number of grams of fat. It is the total number of calories that should concern you. Fat is not bad for you, provided that it is not the man-made hydrogenated variety, like trans fats. Fat just happens to be very dense in calories, so you cannot add too much of it to your meals before you are overloading yourself on calories. Eat fat in moderation for taste, and do not obsess over it.

Add more complex carbohydrates to your meals whenever you can. Your body will extract much fewer calories from the food than the equivalent mass of simple carbs. Also, add a decent portion of protein to your meals. Every meal. Protein, like complex carbs, is relatively difficult for your body to break down, and will slow the absorption of calories. Try to limit the quantity of simple carbs you add to your plate. Also beware of the fact that some of the non-leafy, root-like, vegetables, like potato behave much more like simple carbohydrates, than the complex form. If you want to limit your fat gain, limit your allocation of potato and rice, two of the staple vegetables that are added to our plates today.

If you would like to know which natural foods fall into the complex and simple carbohydrate groups, check out Carolyn Hansen's easy-to-read book on healthy eating:

Inside you will not only find out how to construct meals that offer a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, and fats, but you will learn why you need to reduce the size of your meals and eat more often. Yes, it sounds strange, but the best way to burn more fat involves a schedule of meals that occur every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Remember the grazing analogy? This is how you put it into action for steady, but sustainable weight loss.

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