15 Myths About Carbs That Need to Stop
We argue about the what. We scream about the when. And, we rarely if ever agree on the how often. It’s the nature of consumption. But, one thing that we can all agree on is that Carbohydrates (also known as carbs) are the devil. Or are they?
The anti-carb crusade began with the world’s first dietary journal, William Banting’s “Letter on Corpulence,” in 1863. Continued with Dr. Atkins, and still rages today with the burgeoning popularity of the Paleo and the Ketogenic diets. Today, we’re going to cut through the clutter and get to the truth at the bottom of the cookie jar once and for all.
Carbs = Sugar
Let’s kick off this convo by clearing up a common misconception. A carbohydrate is more than just a synonym for sugar. On the biological level, a carbohydrate is a molecule that consists of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In food, carbohydrates act as a vessel for energy.
When used in the context of nutrition science however, the word carbohydrate typically refers to starchy food. Think pasta, cereal, bread and rice. So, yes, carbohydrates do contain sugar, but the whole Carbs = Sugar philosophy is an oversimplification.
All Carbs Are the Same
Carbohydrates can be broken up in to two distinct categories: Simple and Complex. Now, we can dive right in to the biological composition of each carb type, but to be honest, I want you to make it to the end of this article without falling asleep.
The real difference between Simple and Complex carbohydrates is in the way that our bodies digest them. Simple carbohydrates are made up of just one or two sugar molecules, and are digested rapidly. Complex carbohydrates are, well… more complex. And take longer to digest.
You Don’t Need Carbs
We can survive without them, but carbs are the body’s main source of fuel, and typically make up about 45% of the average human diet. Carbs promote strong intestinal health and encourage waste elimination. And, carbs are a large part of essential fruits and vegetables. You can do without the cupcakes and waffles, but bananas, green peas and sweet potatoes still hold an important place in your dietitian’s cookbook.