There’s a lot of conflicting information out there when it comes to what foods you should nix from your diet in order to eat better. And carbohydrates are one of the most heavily debated. Why? Because there are so many myths surrounding this pivotal part of the food pyramid. Too overwhelmed to figure out what’s real and what’s fake? Here are just seven lies about carbs that you need to stop believing.
Carbs make you fat
Yes, if you go overboard on pizza and pasta it’ll go straight to your waistline. But it isn’t the carbs that are directly tipping the scale. It’s the sugar in calorie-dense carbohydrate-based foods. “This myth persists because many people who eat a lot of refined carbs and sugar do lose weight when they cut back on these foods,” Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD tells NBC News.
Sugar-free = low-carb
Carbs and sugar are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, these two terms are not interchangeable. As HealthyLivingHowTo.com explains, “carbohydrate content is the sum of its components which include fiber, sugars, starch and sometimes sugar alcohols.” For example, you can go low-card and cut bread products out of your diet, but you could still be getting sugar from eating fruit.
All carbs are created equal
Whoever said “a carb is a carb” obviously didn’t do their homework. A piece of fruit isn’t the same as a pastry, right? Courtney Ferreira, RD, tells NBC News that people who say they’re on a low-carb diet are typically “referring to pasta and bread.” She adds that “what many don’t know is that dairy, fruit and vegetables have naturally occurring carbohydrates!”
Carbs raise your blood sugar
Again, not all carbohydrates are the same. Complex carbs, like multi-grain bread, can help stabilize blood sugar levels and give you energy. Refined carbs, which is found in white bread and most junk food, will make your blood sugar spike and then crash. (More on that sugar crash in just a bit.)
Eating carbs causes inflammation
Because of the link to weight gain, carbohydrates have been connected to inflammation and type 2 diabetes. But as Today’s Dietitian explains, complex carbs can actually have the opposite effect. “High intake of whole grains has been shown to reduce concentrations of inflammatory markers,” the site tells us.
Low-carb diets are the best
As you may have already guessed, complex carbohydrates are responsible for giving your body energy. So while a low-carb diet may sound like a must for losing weight and being healthier, it’s actually robbing your body of essentials it needs. Today’s Dietitian tells us that “carbohydrate restriction was linked with a 30% increased risk of mortality from all causes, and a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular events.”
Carbs make you sleepy
This is somewhat true. But again, it depends on what kind of carbs you are eating. Sugar-loaded refined carbs, like white pasta, raise your blood pressure before crashing, causing you to feel fatigued. Eating a whole wheat pasta meal won’t give you the same kind of sleepy feeling.