Superbad: Carbs As Dietary Villains
Part 1 of a series on carbs, carb counting and balance.
It's easy to have a love/hate relationship with carbohydrates. Certainly, they have the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. And yet they're just so darn tasty.
Seems like carbs are always in the news—like so many foods, they're on the "yes" list one minute and the "no-no" list another. But carbs aren't the bad guy (just ask David Edelman at Diabetes Daily). If you're new to diabetes or you just need a refresher, let's look at carbs are, what they do and what all the fuss is about.
As you know, there are two kinds of carbs...
- You've got your complex carbohydrates, including starchy foods like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes.
- Then you've got simple carbohydrates—sugar. These include sucrose (in straight-up table sugar, soft drinks and candy), fructose (the natural sugar in fruit) and lactose (from dairy products). Nearly any -ose is some type of sugar, just like blood sugar = glucose.
All carbohydrates, from all sources, cause everyone's blood sugar to go up whether they have diabetes or not. The rate of the rise (and the crash that follows) may change, but for the most part carbs are carbs. (Okay, there are some exceptions—like fiber and sugar alcohols—but let's stick with the broad strokes.)
Don't believe us? Watch Ginger Vieira talk about the 3 things that can happen when you eat carbs.
So why are some people saying carbohydrates are bad for you? If your body has more glucose than it needs, it stores the leftovers as fat—saving energy for later. Some people have interpreted that to mean that carbs alone cause weight gain and have turned carb-restrictive diets into an excuse to eat more calories from sources like steak and bacon while cutting back on fruit.
Rather than ruling out any one type of food or prescribing a "diabetic diet," they recommend a more balanced, inclusive way of eating. We agree. Don't make carbs taboo. Just understand that, like chocolate, horror movies and social media, carbohydrates should be enjoyed in moderation.
Source: Marks JB. The weighty issue of low-carb diets, or is the carbohydrate the enemy? Clinical Diabetes. 2004:22:155-156. Available at: http://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/4/155. Accessed May 16, 2012.