Ask the Dietitian: What are carbs? Are they good or bad? If they are bad, how do you avoid them?

Q: What are carbs? Are they good or bad? If they are bad, how do you avoid them?

A: Carbs (a shortened name for carbohydrates) are starches and sugars that your body uses for fuel. Carbs are not bad; in fact, your brain is fueled by glucose (which is a carb) – and without adequate carb intake, your body will not function properly. This being said, we tend to eat too many carbs in the form of sodas, cookies, chips, crackers, candies, etc. that are mostly “empty calories” and do not provide your body with much nutritional value. These “extra” carbs are then stored as fat in your body and can cause complications in individuals with insulin resistance. When consuming carbs, go for the healthy ones: whole grains, fruit, vegetables and dairy. It is also important to eat protein and healthy fats with carbs, which will help keep you feeling full.

    

The first ingredient when choosing carbs such as bread or cereal should be “whole grain”; it could be whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, etc.