Know Your Carbs!

by Aimee Keiluhn
Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Anaylst



Know your carbs… Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Carbohydrates are made up of sugar and starch. Starchy carbs are also called complex carbs. Sugary carbs are called simple carbs.

With the exception of whole fruit, simple carbs by themselves have very little nutrients. However, that doesn’t make them bad. You need to keep them in check. They are the easiest way to trim calories without trimming nutrients from your diet.


Example of foods high in simple sugars = Baked goods such as muffins and cakes; breakfast cereals such as Sugar Pops, Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms; certain beverages such as soda and fruit drinks, fruit juice, whole fruit


Example of healthy complex carbs (starch) = Sweet potato, brown rice, oats, beans, quinoa, barley, teff, squash, sprouted grain bread.


Focus on carbohydrates that rank low on the Glycemic Index. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly by your body and promote more stable blood sugar (think oatmeal and sprouted grains instead of white bread and white rice). Those that rank higher on the GI (simple sugars and some starches) break down quickly and promote a quick spike in your blood sugar, which in turn produces extra insulin. Insulin promotes fat storage.


Note: Although whole fruits and fruit juices are nutrient dense they are also sugar and energy dense. It is recommended that children have 2-4- servings of fruit a day. Four (4) ounces of most fruit juice will satisfy one serving for most fruits. Many parents allow unlimited fruit and encourage fruit juices as a preferred drink. Keep these in check!


Note: Alternative sweeteners: saccharin, aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame (Sweet One) are an easy alternative to sugar. Many parents fear that the use of sweeteners may lead to cancer. Saccharin is the only FDA approved sweetener that showed links to cancer. The FDA decided to allow this product to stay on the market provided it had a warning label. It approved the product after considering that the amounts needed to cause cancer was highly unlikely to be consumed by humans.


Know your carbs! In order to educate your family you must first educate yourself!





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