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How To Switch From Bad Carbohydrates To Good

March 4, 2021

Now that we are well into the new year and moving into spring, you may be wondering if you should make some changes in your life. Exercise more and eat better types of foods are typically a good start, but what about changing what’s in your food to make your diet healthier? Namely, carbohydrates.

While there is no single definition of what a low-carb diet is, followers generally limit the intake of foods that are a rich source of carbohydrates — this could include bread, pasta, cakes and sweets, but may also include potatoes and fruits.

Research shows that low carbohydrate diets can be very effective for weight loss. Reducing carbs tends to reduce your appetite and cause automatic weight loss, or weight loss without the need to count calories. For some people, a low-carb diet allows them to eat until fullness, feel satisfied and still lose weight.

It may sound like it’s making your life more complicated, asking you to switch to a low-carb diet and then asking you to do it for good, but choosing good, complex carbs makes your life better, and it’s not that hard to do.

Simple Carbohydrates Are Bad

When you’re making the switch, your goal will be to ween yourself off of foods packed with simple carbohydrates and work more complex carbohydrates into your diet.

Refined or simple carbs have had most of the nutrients and fiber removed. Eating refined carbs is linked to a drastically increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Complex Carbohydrates Are Good

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates full of dietary fiber, vitamin B and minerals. Your body needs complex carbs for energy and the fiber helps manage your blood sugar levels and promote digestive health.

Here’s how complex carbohydrates are good for you, according to GoodCarbs.org:

  • High in fiber: helps you stay full longer (and avoid overeating), provides sustained energy, lowers cholesterol levels, helps to remove toxins from the body
  • Low glycemic index: stabilizes blood sugar levels and insulin production
  • High in nutrients: natural vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients promote health and help to prevent chronic disease
  • Low energy-density (except nuts & seeds): provides sustained energy, promotes healthy weight loss and long-term weight maintenance
  • Greater thermic effect: naturally stimulates metabolism and promotes fat loss

How to Make the Switch

Throughout the day, embrace fruits and vegetables. (And the less you do to them, the better they are for you.) Put fruit on your cereal, or have fruit with whole-grain toast in the morning. Take some for snacking throughout the day, and then make sure the bulk of your meals are vegetables.

Swap your snacks. Instead of pretzels, have celery with almond butter or carrot sticks; instead of corn chips, have a handful of walnuts and some string cheese. Have an oatmeal cookie instead of candy, and juice, milk, or soy milk instead of soda.

For cereal, bread or dinners, try choosing high-bran or whole-grain alternatives. Kashi or oatmeal for breakfast, darker pieces of bread for sandwiches, and new and exotic grains like quinoa, boiled barley, bulgur, and kasha instead of rice or pasta. If you must have rice, make it brown or wild rice, and for pasta, look for whole wheat or other types.

Dr. Craft-Portion Sizes

Fast food is typically packed with carbohydrates. Most offerings are full of carbs, whether in the bun, crust, breading, condiments, or fries.

If you’re interested in learning more shocking statistics about fast food, check out our interactive infographic. It includes the percentage of children and adults who eat fast food every day.

fast food nutrition facts