Three Myths About Why You Should Avoid Carbohydrates

Carbs Aren’t Bad, They’re Just Misunderstood!


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e tend to have a love-hate relationship with carbs. We love them because they’re easy to eat and just so tasty. But we hate them because they’re bad for us and cause weight gain, right? Well, maybe not. Here are three myth-busting facts on why carbs aren’t as bad as we think they are.

First of all, what is a carb? Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the three macronutrients. Dietary carbohydrates are molecular compounds built of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They consist of three major categories: sugars, starches, and fiber. The carb’s primary purpose is to provide energy. They mostly get broken down into glucose for instant energy, or into stored energy, aka fats. While fiber doesn’t directly provide our bodies with energy, it does feed the bacteria in our digestive systems.

Even at its most basic, molecular structure, it already sounds conflicted. There’s that nagging juxtaposition of words like fats, energy, sugars and digestion that can be confusing. So let’s put some of these myths about evil carbs to rest.


Myth 1: All Carbs Are Bad For You

“Eating [high-fiber carbohydrates] is linked to improved metabolic health and a lower risk of disease.” (Health Line)
If you’re a believer in this myth, then you’re most likely thinking of refined carbs. Refined carbs are those sugary, high-calorie treats like breads and sugary drinks. They’re empty calories, meaning they’re stripped of nutritious goodies like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Unrefined carbs, however, usually come from fruits and vegetables. These are the good-for-you carbs that will provide nourishment and steady energy. Refined carbs will only give you a rush that makes you crave more sugar later.


Myth 2: You Don’t Need Carbs

“Carbohydrates come from plants, and plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber that are vital to good health.” (Today’s Dietitian)

Ok, there’s a truth that carbs are not essential to our diets. We could technically survive without them. The brain and body can locate alternate fuels. One way is through ketones. A ketogenic diet is all about training your body to depend on fat as a fuel source rather than sugar. When there’s no sugar to scavenge, the body will convert fats into ketones which can be utilized at a cellular level. Another way is through gluconeogenesis. This is a way for our metabolism to generate glucose from a noncarbohydrate source like glycerol or amino acids.

But this doesn’t mean that you should completely forgo carbohydrates. Even ketonic diets include carbs in the meal plan because they help our digestion and our bodies break down fat properly. Plus, you would be missing out pretty much every fruit and vegetable if you were to strictly go carb-free.


Myth 3: Carbs Cause Obesity and Type II Diabetes (T2D)

For more visual information on how carbs work, check out this video from Ted-Ed.

Carbs have a reputation for being fattening and for increased blood sugar. A low-carb diet can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. But that doesn’t make them the guilty party here. Human beings have been eating carbs for millennia, and presently there are cultures who have very high-carb diets that do not suffer from obesity or T2D.

What the culprit may be is excess. While we are fortunate enough to have a cornucopia of delicious, affordable food, healthy choices can become harder to make. A diet with a lot of processed foods, refined carbs and empty calories doesn’t do the body any favors. A little splurge here and there is completely ok as long as we remain conscious of our decisions. So the key, like everything in life, is moderation.

 

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