Top 5 Carbohydrate Myths

There was a time when everyone were afraid of fats.  Time have changed, the title of public enemy number 1 (in the nutritional field) now sits with the carbohydrate.  While some carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, get a thumbs up; grains, dairy, and legumes are considered a no-no. Research has however disproved this line of thought, so let’s examine and clear the misunderstanding behind the top 5 carbohydrate myths.

Myth 1: Only Breads and Grains Contain Carbs

The irony about “carb-phobia” is that many people can’t accurately define what they’re afraid of. When clients were asked what type of foods contain carbohydrates, they always respond with bread, pasta, and rice. Most people don’t realize that fruits, vegetables and milk products are carbohydrates. For a healthy diet, have more healthy carbohydrates – ones that are high in fiber and low in sugar – and reduce your intake of the refined, processed carbohydrates.

Myth 2: Carbs Are Fattening

We have many clients who don’t eat carbohydrates because they are ‘fattening’. However, when we discuss their food logs, there are carbohydrates all over the place — bananas and other fruit, oatmeal, protein bars, etc. They believe they aren’t consuming carbohydrates, when in fact they are confused with what a carbohydrate is in the first place. Several studies have found that whole grain and fruit intake is associated with a reduced risk of weight gain, provided calorie needs aren’t exceeded.

Myth 3: Avoid Fruits Due to High Sugar Content
Many clients are confused about fruits. Sugars found in fruit are natural sources and are different from the sugars that are added to foods and beverages. While it’s true that the main source of calories in whole fruits are sugar, predominantly fructose, those sugars are sequestered, surrounded by fiber. You’d never get a surge of fructose that would take a hit on the liver or a surge of glucose that would cause a surge in insulin. It’s the added sugars that cause a problem.

Myth 4: All Simple Carbs Are Bad; All Complex Carbs Are Good
While lactose and bananas are simple, white bread is actually a complex carbohydrate. Just as a simple carbohydrate (sugar) may come packaged in an apple, a glass of milk, or a can of soda; complex carbohydrates (starch and fiber) also come in both whole and processed forms, and whole grain bread can be highly processed. Whole kernel grains like buckwheat, quinoa, and wheat berries have much more nutrition and they digest more slowly.

Myth 5: Carbs Cause Inflammation
The top reason for clients avoiding carbs is because they believe that they are “bad for you”, referring to the weight gain; sometimes you’ll hear claims about inflammation, or that they can cause diabetes. One reason that whole grains may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes is by reducing inflammation. Higher intake of whole grains has been shown to increases insulin sensitivity and that in turn reduces inflammation; turning this myth on its head!

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