Carbs – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Assortment of bread by Markus Spiske is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Carbs are not bad, not all of them. You have a basic idea of some good carbs – fruits and whole grains. What makes a carb good vs. bad? We will discuss this below. Why have all carbs been frowned upon by certain fad diets? In my opinion, there is no valid reason. The fad claims putting yourself into ketosis melts away fat. In reality, it is hard to get your body into ketosis. Eat over 50 grams of carbs, and you are no longer ketogenic. Cheat days don’t work with these diets. You should not eliminate carbohydrate food sources from your diet. In general, eliminating food groups is unhealthy.

Fear of carbs, of gluten, of everything – we’ve distanced ourselves from the beauty of food, the art of it. It makes me sad when people say, ‘Oh, I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat cheese. I don’t eat this. So I eat cardboard.’

Olivia Wilde

Get to Know Carbs

Let’s get educated on carbohydrate types. Knowing the different types of carbs will help you make healthy choices. When you eat, aim for foods that provide nutrients, not empty calories. To keep things simple, there are two categories for you to learn:
Refined and Unrefined

Refined carbohydrate foods are processed with health-boosting nutrients stripped away and gut-healthy fiber removed. The whole form of the original food is no longer intact. Other terms that describe foods in this category include junk food, empty calories, and simple carbs. Being a simple carb means the body quickly uses it as fuel. Why is that bad? Those simple carbs get turned more easily into stored body fat.

Unrefined carbohydrate foods are whole and unprocessed. Unrefined carbs are full of life-enhancing nutrients. They provide gut-healthy fiber. Many people do not get enough fiber in their diet. Another term associated with unrefined carbs is complex carbohydrates. The body must break down complex carbs to use them as fuel. Thus, these carb types are not stored as body fat as easily as refined carbs.


The key point here:

Let your body process whole food to the form it optimally wants instead of man-processed methods, which create unhealthy versions of the original carb source.

—– Somebody, please quote me on that point! – Laura S. Garrett, RDN

Examples of Refined Carbs:

Cakes, Muffins, Cookies, Soda, Candy, Cereals not from Whole Grain, White Bread & Bagels, White Rice, Granola Bars, Chips & Crackers, Juices, Pretzels, Pastries

Examples of Unrefined Carbs:

Whole Grain Cereals, Beans, Starchy Vegetables, Fruits, Soybeans, Peas, Peanuts, Lentils, Quinoa, Barley, Raw Oats, Whole Grain Breads

Health Concerns

A diet lacking in nutrient-rich, low-fiber foods wreaks havoc on the body. Many preventable chronic diseases plague individuals who eat loads of simple, refined carbs and minimal complex unrefined carbs. These diseases are well documented as being self-inflicted. The ailments boil down to bad choices over a prolonged period. Don’t get discouraged. We will talk about how to improve later in this blog post, so hang in there and keep reading.

Here is the list of preventable diseases. Keep in mind you can reduce the risk of developing the following diseases with a healthy lifestyle:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Many Types of Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke

Make time for wellness or be forced to make time for illness

Source unknown

Making Healthy Choices

Recall the diseases listed above are preventable. Even if you are plagued with one, you could improve your condition with healthy lifestyle changes. Since this post covered carbs in-depth, start by planning ways to replace refined carbs in your diet with unrefined carbs.

If you like a sweet treat after dinner, try freezing bananas after you cover them in melted dark chocolate. Never drink sweet drinks or juice. In regards to fruit juice, eat the fruit whole and drink water. In the morning, make a fruit-loaded smoothie with unsweetened protein powder. Don’t add sweeteners. Freeze ripe bananas to add healthy sweetness. A smoothie would be far better for you than a stack of pancakes. But, if you want pancakes, use a whole-grain mix and top with greek yogurt and berries. Skip the syrup.

Other lifestyle changes contributing to preventable chronic diseases include using tobacco or other nicotine sources, drinking alcohol, being sedentary, eating large amounts of red meat, and eating saturated fat (animal fat) and salty foods. Changes you should make include exercising regularly, eating 2 to 3 cups of veggies daily, eating 2 cups of fruit daily, stopping tobacco and nicotine use, stopping alcohol, limiting red meat to 3-ounce servings twice a week, and limiting salty and fried foods.

Bottom Line:

Unrefined, complex carbs are rich in nutrients and fiber. These are healthy and keep the body working properly to fight off diseases.

Refined, simple carbs lack the nutrients and fiber necessary to keep the body working correctly. Eating too many of these carbs develops a very unhealthy body.

You know you need to start eating healthily. If you feel overwhelmed about where to start, let’s chat! A Lifestyle Coach can dramatically help you make healthy changes without feeling overwhelmed!

For professional guidance – Check out the Services I offer