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The Carb Conversation

posted Jan 6, 2017, 9:08 AM by
It’s a New Year and for many, a great time to start getting back into shape or lose a few of those extra pounds gained over the holidays. We are here to help! All month long we’ll be bringing you information about how to eat healthy all year long – no fad diets here! And to kick things off, this week we’re talking carbohydrates.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are present in varying amounts in most of the foods we eat like fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, milk products, and foods with added sugars like soda and others. We need carbohydrates as they provide calories which our bodies use for energy. The difference between carbohydrates and protein or fats, is that carbs are generally digested and absorbed by our bodies much faster, which can cause blood sugar spikes, for example, and then make you crash.

But that is not true for all carbohydrates; fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes for example, have a lot of fiber in them which slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in your body, avoiding the blood sugar spike and keeping you fuller, longer.

What kinds of carbohydrate foods are better for me?

There are three main types of carbohydrate foods: starches, sugars, and fiber. Foods high in starch include vegetables like peas, corn, beans, lentils and grains like oats, barley and rice. Grains can be further broken down into whole or refined. When grains are refined, the fiber is removed.

Sugar is another type of carbohydrate that is digested and absorbed very quickly by your body. There are two main types of sugar: naturally occurring sugars like those found in milk or fruit, and added sugars, which are added during processing, like heavy syrup or those found in baked goods.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods. Your body cannot digest fiber, but it is needed for digestive health, keeping you regular, and keeping you feeling full longer.

For more information on the types of carbohydrates, click here.

How much do I need?

It is recommended that 45-65% of your daily calories come from carbohydrates. You should also aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. For better health, focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and make foods with added sugars your sometimes foods. Follow MyPlate guidelines when filling your plate, by making half of it fruits and vegetables and about ¼ of it grains.

Our cafeterias at ILC are full of healthy carbohydrate options! Keep your eye out for our Dietitian Visits where we are always sampling a healthy salad, and check out our salad and hot bars for whole grains and fresh vegetable dishes. Some of our recent highlights included our Barley Salad with Nuts and Dried Fruit, Butternut Squash and Sage Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Salad.