A Healthier U


CARBOHYDRATE MYTHS AND FACTS

  1. Myth: Carbohydrates are fattening

Fact: Losing body fat requires a fairly high volume of training. This is only sustainable if you have the energy to do it. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of quick fuel that will enable you to perform a high volume of training and allow you to maximize your energy expenditure.

  • The average recreational cyclist riding an hour or so with moderate calorie needs should target about 2-3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.
  • The serious racing cyclist with high calorie needs due to double workouts and exhausting high intensity rides should target about 4-5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.
  • Carbs should be the fundamental part of all your meals. Try having cereal for breakfast, sandwiches made with hearty breads for lunch, bananas and bagels for snacks and pasta for dinner.
  • Carbs fuel your muscles, allowing you to perform with greater intensity, cover more distance and delay fatigue.
  1. Myth: All white foods are unhealthful

Fact: Many people claim to avoid “white foods” due to health reasons. While white flour and white rice are refined and missing the fiber and nutrients found in their whole-grain counterparts, many naturally white-colored foods are actually high in nutrients. Examples include: mushrooms, cauliflower, onions, garlic and leeks, and the much-maligned white potato, which is a great source of potassium (more than bananas), vitamin C and some fiber if eaten with the skin.

  1. Myth: Fruit should be avoided due to high sugar content

Fact: Many people try to limit or avoid eating “sugary” produce such as bananas, watermelon, grapes or even starchy veggies like corn, peas and carrots. While the truth is the main source of calories in fruit is from sugar (mostly fructose), those sugars are surrounded by fiber, slowing any surge of glucose and subsequent spike in insulin. It’s the added sugars that likely cause problems in our diet, not whole fruits. Some research has shown a diet rich in fruits such as apples, pears, kiwis, and strawberries may decrease risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

  1. Myth: Simple carbohydrates are bad, complex carbohydrates are good

Fact: It’s not that simple. For example, lactose (found in dairy products) and bananas are simple carbs; white bread is a complex carb. While simple carbs (sugar) may come packed in a glass of milk, a can of soda, or a piece of fruit, complex carbs also come in whole and processed forms. Examples of complex carbs include highly processed and refined breads, and also whole-grain quinoa, buckwheat and wheat berries, which have much more nutrition and are digested more slowly.

  1. Myth: Carbohydrates cause inflammation and diabetes

Fact: Chronic inflammation is a concern because it may lead to other chronic conditions such as heart-disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.  A diet rich in whole-grains and produce has been found to reduce inflammation by reducing concentrations of high-inflammatory markers in the body such as C-reactive protein and increasing blood concentrations of adiponectin, a cytokine that reduces inflammation and increases insulin sensitivity!

 

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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.