Carbohydrates come in many shapes and sizes, refined and unrefined, simple and complex.
By choosing your carbs wisely, you maintain a healthy, constant energy stream and glycogen level. Your blood sugar not only dictates your mood but also your cravings for more and more sugar. If you choose simple carbs for quick fix, your engine sputters. If you reach for the first portable thing for breakfast, a glazed sugar doughnut, you’ve just eaten on the run. The doughnut contains plenty of carbs, and you get a shot of sugary energy that can take you on your jog around the block or propel you to the commuter train. However, when that boost is over, the reserve light on your dashboard starts blinking, indicating that your fuel tank is running low. You crave another burst of sugar, and before you know it, you’re looking around for another doughnut to keep the boost going. It is a vicious cycle.
Good carbs, also known as unrefined carbs, are made of starches that contain long chains of sugar molecules, thus earning their name complex carbohydrates. You will recognize these complex, good for you carbs as whole wheat grains, legumes, rice, and starchy vegetables such as corn. These all natural foods are your best bet in choosing the right carbs, ones that are not refined food products from factories, stripped and then fortified with artificial vitamins.
Americans consume refined carbs (simple carbs or bad carbs) in far larger quantities than ever before. This habit started in the 1070s when we began watching the fat content in our food. We find bad carbs in processed foods such as store bought packaged goods, crackers, pasta, white bread, white sugar, hard candy, pretzels, and rice cakes. These bad carbs are more easily digested, have less natural fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can cause weight gain.
To get on board with the low fat craze that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s, we replaced the fat in our food with carbs. However, to fill the gap, we chose refined carbs, primarily in the form of refined sugar. Refined carbs are the bad carbs. They are easily digested, leaving a burst of glucose in the body’s system that leads to the highs and lows that affect your mood and your food craving. Bad carbs have little natural fiber and what is worse, are often hidden in foods where you would least suspect them, such as breakfast cereals, ketchup, and juice.