How many carbs do we need?
Exactly what are carbohydrates, and why do so many people say bad
things about them? Are carbs the cause of obesity, diabetes, and every
other disease? Are
they bad for us, or good for us?
Carbs for energy
Carbohydrates are simply one of the three sources
calories in our food. The
other two are protein and fat. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are
You often hear people say that they need to eat more protein for
energy. That is actually not correct. Protein is the nutrient that we
use for the building and repair of tissues, not for energy. That is why
marathon runners carbohydrate load before a race. They don't protein
load, do they?
are the primary source of
energy for our bodies.
brain uses only carbs for
fuel, and it burns a lot of them. What are carbohydrates?
They are a clean-burning fuel that breaks down to carbon
dioxide and water.
The body can burn protein for energy if it has to, but it much prefers
carbohydrate and fat. When we don't get enough carbs our body will even
muscle tissue and turn it into carbs to keep our "machinery" running.
If we lose muscle tissue, we burn fewer calories
every day. We want to
keep our muscles.
There are two kinds of carbs:
or simple carbs. They
taste sweet. The common simple carbs in food are
glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, and galactose. We call
them simple sugars because a molecule of simple carbs contains just one
or two sugar units.
or complex carbs. They
don't taste sweet. Complex carbs are made of very long
chains of sugars. Some of them have more than 3000 simple sugars
Our digestive system breaks down all of the
complex carbs into simple sugars and finally to glucose. The simple
carbs break down faster than the complex carbs. They are all healthy if we eat
them in whole plant foods.
dietary fiber is made of
complex carbs too, but we can't digest it in our stomach
or small intestine. We don't have the right enzymes to take the sugar
chains apart, so they pass intact through to our colon.
Bad carbs, good carbs
There are some bad carbohydrates that are harmful to our health. Here is a description of bad carbs and
how to identify them.
contains carbohydrates: lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, you name
it. Plants also contain protein and fat, which is why we call them
Some plants contain carbs that are a little more
concentrated. These are the starchy foods like grains, beans, and root
vegetables. Starches are an important source of calories for people all
around the world. They are healthy foods and they are not fattening.
People in Asia were slender until they cut back on rice and started
eating more animal foods.
How many carbs do we need?
vegan doctors say that 70-80% of
our calories should come from the carbs in whole plant foods.
For optimal health, we need no more than
10-15% of our calories from
and 10-15% from protein.
Low carb diets are not healthy.
Remember, all of our food calories come from fat, protein, and
carbohydrate. If we cut back on carbs we automatically increase the
percent of fat and protein in our diet.
Extra fat causes obesity, heart disease, and
protein is linked with kidney failure, osteoporosis and other health
problems. Flesh foods like beef, pork, poultry, and fish are nothing
but fat and protein. They contain no carbohydrate or fiber. They lead
disease, not to health.
So, what are carbohydrates? They are weight loss
show that a healthy high carbohydrate diet can help us
weight. Don't fight your cravings for carbs. Eat
sweet potatoes, potatoes, whole grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables.
But read package labels and keep the bad carbs and added fats
out of your