You say “po-ta-to” I say “poh-tah-to”, at the end of the day they’re both carbohydrates. In today’s world somehow carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap sheet. With recent diets from Atkins to Keto,this philosophy that all carbohydrates are bad has managed to stick around. However, the bottom line is that WE NEED CARBS (good healthy ones, at minimum). Our bodies depend on them to properly function and live!

So let’s talk about Carbohydrates

What are they?

Carbohydrates are food sources that are converted into glucose, or sugar during digestion. Our energy systems primarily run off glucose. It is highly important for the brain, which is fueled primarily by carbohydrates.

What are Carbohydrates?

We have two types of carbohydrates that we ingest, simple and complex

Simple carbs include easily digestible such as fruit, honey, dairy products, and table sugar.

Complex carbs are starches which contain longer chains of glucose molecules which are more complicated to break down/digest. These can be found in most grain products, bread, crackers, rice and (everyone’s favorite) pasta!

Are Carbohydrates bad?

Both types simple and complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and raise our blood sugar. Managing blood glucose is important for weight management and diabetes.

While carbohydrates may raise our blood sugar, they also can contain fiber. Fiber is another key for our digestive health and blood glucose levels. Whole grains and unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grain rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes and even fruit contain fiber which slows the rate of glucose absorption and slows the blood sugar spike.

Why do I need them?

Plain and simple carbohydrates give you energy. Have you ever tried to run a car without gasoline? That’s basically what happens when we avoid carbohydrates. All three of our energy systems from quick explosive power, to running to the end of the driveway, to the 5k were planning to run or even just walking your dog, it all runs on glucose.

Carbohydrates/Glucose is our high-grade premium fuel. While we can get energy from our protein and fats our bodies were meant to run on carbohydrates.

How much should I eat?

A good rule of thumb is to use our hands. At each meal we should have a palm sized cup of carbohydrates to help fuel our bodies. A few good carbohydrate examples are any potato (sweet, russet, Yukon, red) whole wheat rice, fruit, beans, whole wheat pasta or bread, quinoa, or Greek yogurt. Add any of these to your meals and snacks to help fuel your engine!

The bottom line

Carbohydrates are our major source of fuel and nutrients for our bodies. They should be a part of a healthy diet even when were trying to lose weight. Carbohydrates also taste great, so don’t be afraid of carbohydrates at your next meal. Use good portions and healthy carbs to give your body the fuel it needs.