Beginners Guide to Enjoying Carbs by Nicole Freeman, nutrition student from UNCG

Dozens of myths exist about carbohydrates, commonly known as carbs. As an advocate for health, a common battle we have to fight are incorrect health myths! Here I will address popular carb myths.

Carbs are not good for your body.

This is the scariest myth I have heard because the truth is actually the exact opposite. Carbs serve as the body’s main source of energy, especially the brain! Think of your body as a car. When a car gets low on gas, it cannot run properly. When our bodies are low on carbohydrates, they cannot run properly. Carbs are a very important part of our daily diets.

Carbs are fattening and should be avoided.

Many people have expressed that they will not consume carbs because they are fattening. It is important to note that any food can add to weight gain if it is eaten in excess. Here are a few examples of great sources of carbohydrates that are low in fat:

* Dried Beans: peas, kidney beans, black eyed peas and split peas.

* Fruits: honeydew melons, kiwis, raspberries and watermelon.

* Dark green vegetables: spinach, broccoli, and kale.

Low carb diets are healthier.

Low carb diets have become more and more popular. There is evidence to show that they are successful, and other evidence to show that they are not. A weight loss study with 447 individuals, mostly women, had participants split into two groups, one group of low-carb diets, and another group of low-fat diets. At the end of the 6 month trial, the low-carb diet appeared to be more successful, but after 12 months neither diet was more effective than the other.

Understanding carbs and their importance is the first step to having a healthier diet. The best source of carbohydrates for our bodies are from a natural source. For example,

* Whole fruits and vegetables

* Nuts: walnuts, almonds, and peanuts

* Beans: pinto, lentils, chickpeas

* Whole grains: brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain cereals

These are a few examples of natural carbohydrates. When giving the chance, always pick whole products over processed products. I challenge you to eat a diverse group of carbs daily. Try eating colorful carbs, such as fruits and vegetables. Incorporating more diverse fruits and vegetables into your daily diets is the first important step to enjoying carbs.


a. Rizkalla, S., Bellisle, F., & Slama, G. (2002). Health benefits of low glycaemic index foods, such as pulses, in diabetic patients and healthy individuals. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(S3), 255-262. doi:10.1079/BJN2002715

b. Nordmann AJ, Nordmann A, Briel M, et al. Effects of Low-Carbohydrate vs Low-Fat Diets on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Factors A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(3):285–293. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.3.285

c. D’Anci, K. E., Watts, K. L., Kanarek, R. B. & Taylor, H. A. Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood. Appetite 52, 96–103 (2009).

d. Parrott, M. D. & Greenwood, C. E. Dietary Influences on Cognitive Function with Aging. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1114, 389–397 (2007).

Photo Credit: Products sources of carbohydrates. Healthy carbs food. Top view Stock Photo – 104716688

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