We hear it from someone every day: “I’ve given up carbs.”
Why? Probaby because they’re trying to lose weight or keep their blood sugars low. And somewhere along the way someone has told them to watch those carbs.
The problem with this advice is it’s not that simple.
Carbohydrates come in a variety of forms. Some are bad for us, like white flour, sugar and snack foods. These are called simple carbs because they are highly refined. Others, like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, are called complex carbs. They are unprocessed or minimally processed and are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. They are absolutely essential for good health.
If you look at cultures around the world where chronic diseases are virtually non-existent, fiber intake tops 100 grams per day. To put that in context, the average American get 20 grams per day. So how do you increase your fiber intake? You have to increase your complex carb intake. For example, to get 100 grams of fiber, you would need to eat at least 20 apples – for a whopping total carb intake of 500 grams. Or 7 cups of black beans, for a total carb intake of 300 grams.
Not exactly low carb, right?
Tell someone you’re eating 300 grams of carbs a day and they’ll tell you you’re nuts and that you’re going to gain weight and become a diabetic. But if your carbs are coming from whole foods, you’ll experience an effect that is absolutely opposite. 7 cups of black beans have 1400 calories. I challenge you to eat more than 1400 calories worth of black beans in a single day. You are going to be full full full. There is no way you are going to gain weight.
The lesson here is not to cut carbs indiscriminately. Remember – nature is brilliant. It has created perfect carbohydrates that we need for optimal health. You can consume these in almost unlimited quantities without ill effect.
Instead, eliminate the carbs that have been modified from their original form, because the components that made them special are no longer there. Like grains that have had their bran and germ removed and are transformed into cakes, cookies, cereals, breads, and noodles. Or foods stripped of some of their nutritious components, like white rice and fruit juices. Or foods that never had any nutritional value – like sodas and candy.
At Step One Foods, we include only complex carbohydrates in all of our foods. They’re rich in their original fiber and vitamins and minerals. And that’s why they are so effective at improving cardiovascular health, controlling blood sugar and contributing to healthy weight loss.
And don’t forget to keep eating those apples and beans!