Carbohydrate has become a dirty word in many dieting circles, with popular options like the Atkins and Keto diets calling for a dramatic reduction of carbohydrates. While cutting back on particular types of carbs is healthy, it’s important not to take your vilification of carbohydrates too far. Keep an eye out for these common carb myths and don’t let the misconceptions guide your eating decisions.
Carbs Always Make You Gain Weight
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Switching to a low-carb diet often results in quick weight loss. This isn’t necessarily a result of the food group you’ve cut so much as it the byproduct of cutting back on your overall calories. You may have also made other healthy adjustments to compensate for the loss of carbs. You can easily include carbohydrates in a healthy and effective weight loss diet when you do so mindfully.
Pair your carbs with fat and protein so you’ll enjoy a lasting feeling of fullness rather than a brief kick of energy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend getting between 45 and 65 percent of your daily calories from carbs.
You Should Avoid Carbs in All Forms
Though some carbs are unhealthy, not all carbs are bad. Highly processed foods with a lot of added sugars are a bad choice. Opt instead for healthy carbs like whole fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Fruits are a particularly good choice for satisfying a sweet tooth without dipping into the donut box. Whole fruits pair natural sugar and carbs with fiber and other nutrients that help your body digest these foods efficiently.
Humans Aren’t Designed to Eat Starches
You may have heard the argument that carbs are bad for you because the human body simply wasn’t designed to digest starches. This common misconception has been disproved by archeological evidence that shows even Neanderthals consumed starchy foods. Evidence of starch grains was found on the teeth of Neanderthal skeletons in both Belgium and Iraq. Mark Thomas, evolutionary geneticist at University College London, has even argued that consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods contributed to the expansion of the human brain. Carbohydrates have long been an important and healthy part of the human diet.
Low-Carb Diets Require Total Carb Elimination
Cutting back on carbs can be a good idea, particularly if your current diet is high in refined sugars and highly-processed foods. However, it’s a myth that an effective low-carb diet requires you to eliminate carbs completely. Parents looking to adjust their families’ eating habits may worry that going low-carb will mean cutting essential nutrients from their children’s plates. However, Lifesum points out that this is a carb myth and offers a reminder that you can cut back on unhealthy carbs, yet still meet dietary needs with healthy carbohydrates like those in whole produce and dairy.
Carbs are far from being the enemy that some may believe them to be. As with most food groups, it’s important to understand the variations with each type of nutrient and pick healthy whole foods over those that have strayed from their natural state. Consuming carbs wisely can be a healthy part of any diet.