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Has the Good Carbs/Bad Carbs Nutrition Advice Been Debunked?

Has the Good Carbs/Bad Carbs Nutrition Advice Been Debunked?

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New research from the National Institutes of Health finds that the high glycemic index warning may be a myth

Wikimedia Commons

We’ve all been looking for that excuse to eat more pasta and potatoes.

For years, the distinction between good carbs (quinoa and whole wheat everything), and bad carbs (white bread and potatoes), has been drilled into our heads. However, a new study by the National Institutes of Health has come out that is making us question everything. In fact, a diet rich in low-glycemic foods can actually make insulin sensitivity worse. Unless you suffer from diabetes, the study urges people, even those who are overweight or obese, to ignore the myth of the glycemic index.

In the study, 163 overweight adults were placed on four different heart-healthy diets for five weeks at a time, with varying degrees of carbohydrate and glycemic levels. Overall researchers found that despite diet changes, there was little to no discernable markers of health differences between high- and low-glycemic diets.

If you’re eating a heart-healthy diet, glycemic index is not important to consider,” said Dr. Robert Eckel a professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, who wrote an editorial for the study. “I think the emphasis need to be on the overall diet pattern,” he said.

So what do the researchers suggest overweight people look to instead? Mediterranean-style diets rich in vegetables, nuts, fish, and healthy fats were at the top of the list, according to Reuters.

Slideshow: Your Guide to Eating Healthy Carbs

Think of carbs as raw material that powers your body. You need them to make sugar for energy.

They come in two types: simple and complex. What's the difference? Simple carbs are like quick-burning fuels. They break down fast into sugar in your system. You want to eat less of this type.

Complex carbs are usually a better choice. It takes your body longer to break them down.

Your body needs food to function.

Let's start with basic science: food is fuel. All food provides our body with fuel, energy and nourishment. Your body needs calories to function, and so calories are not the enemy. Food also has nutrients your body needs, and different foods have different nutrients.

Make no mistake here &mdash as a dietitian I will always encourage you to make nutritious choices to benefit your overall body and holistic health. While there are no "bad" foods, it is of course true that certain foods don't provide much physiological benefit to the body as others. Some foods have ingredients that aren't nutritious for the body, like trans fats and artificial additives.

But that doesn't mean we should form strict and rigid rules around avoiding those foods for the rest of our life or attaching morality to food. You are not a better person if you eat a more nutritious food, and you are not a worse person if you eat something that is less nutritious. Life isn't perfect and involves making choices that take your circumstances, tastes and preferences into account.

When we label foods as "good" or "bad," even "sinful" or "forbidden," we're giving that food too much control and power, which has the potential to lead to disordered eating. Restricting ourselves from a food can ultimately backfire and lead to a binge-restrict cycle that's unhealthy for your physical body, mental health and emotional wellbeing. Designating certain foods "bad" can also lead to unnecessary stress and preoccupation with these items.

Here's my advice: Listen to your body if you are craving a food and want to enjoy it, then know it's okay to eat your favorite foods in moderation without guilt or judgement. Every single meal doesn't have to be the most perfect, most nutritious meal of your life. One meal, snack or food does not define your nutrition status or self worth.

Myth #2: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

As I mentioned above, I believed this myth whole-heartedly and perhaps you did, or still do. Almost every day I work with clients I still spend time debunking this myth. Research clearly suggests eating fat WILL NOT make you fat. In fact, it can help you lose weight. Have I gotten your attention?

Nugget of truth, fat has more calories per gram than either carbs or proteins, but it is not the enemy we once all believed. The International Journal of Obesity conducted a study that found eating fat helps you enjoy food more and keeps you fuller longer, both of which are keys to sustained weight loss. A review of 21 studies published in 2010 (with a total of 347,747 participants) concluded that there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease. Another review published in 2014 looked at data from 76 studies (with a total of 643,226 participants) and again found no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

Good fats contain a plethora of important nutrients and offer amazing benefits. One of the most important is that fats feed our brains, which is critical since 65% of our brain is made up of fat. Fat improves our mood, stabilizes our blood sugar, helps maintain a healthy protective membrane around each and every cell in our body, plus it tastes amazing.

So, what fats are beneficial, and how often should you eat them? At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we think you should add a healthy fat to all your meals and snacks. We often suggest smoothies with canned coconut milk or avocado (both sources of good fat), cooking your morning eggs in real butter (yum!), and adding nuts, seeds or homemade dressings to salads. Over the years, I’ve had client after client begin eating these healthy fats and return to report having better energy, feeling satisfied and not hungry all the time, and losing weight while they put butter on their sweet potato! That leads me to myth number three that cutting carbs will help you lose weight.

(Another reason to stay away from low fat products – when we all believed that fat would make us fat, food manufacturers took the fat out of our food and put sugar in as a replacement for flavor. BIG mistake, but that’s a whole other story.)

Jelly and Preserves


These classic spreads look innocent enough, but they're actually pieces of fruit smothered in sugar and juice and shoved inside a jar. Just one tablespoon of Smucker's grape jelly has 13 grams of carbs, 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories — and let's be honest, who uses just one?

Eat This! Tip: Top peanut butter sandwiches with fresh pieces of fruit like banana and strawberries to get a similar taste with none of the added sugar.

Rich in Fiber

Beans contain a rich source of fiber, a type of carbohydrate that contributes to your health. You get two types of fiber from your diet -- soluble and insoluble. Beans contain both. Soluble fiber attracts water and forms a gel during digestion. Its action promotes healthy glucose and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water instead, it acts as roughage, moving food through your digestive system, softening and bulking up stool. Its action helps relieve constipation and promote regularity. Beans provide about 8 grams of fiber per 1/2-cup cooked serving.



Yes, oats are loaded with complex carbs, but the release of those sugars is slowed by fiber, and because oats also have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady, ab-muscle-friendly energy. And that fiber is soluble, which lowers the risk of heart disease. The éminence grise of health food, oats garnered the FDA's first seal of approval.

Graduates of my training program, TOTAL CLEANSE BOOTCAMP , know from experience that lowering grain consumption (as well as legumes and beans) and instead eating mostly veggies for complex carbohydrates, plus plenty of fat and protein, make their bodies feel good and run not just well, but dynamically! (TOTAL CLEANSE BOOTCAMP’s programming goes beyond these basics–keep reading)

MAIN TAKEAWAY: Get your carbohydrates mostly from veggies. Don’t fear fat–embrace it. Make sure you are eating plenty of quality protein, especially from animal sources . The number one reason to make this lifestyle change isn’t intellectual it’s experiential: you simply feel better and more satisfied.

RELATED ARTICLES: How Many Carbs Can You Have on a Low Carb Diet? Think you know? Don’t be so sure!

If you’re interested in the real food cleanse to end all cleanses (that goes beyond the basics described above), sign up for updates about my proven system, TOTAL CLEANSE BOOTCAMP. This is how to do a cleanse. No juice. No wacky tactics. Just real food – tailored to your unique needs. And real results. Because you’re unique. Your diet should be too.

Featuring delicious nutrient-dense foods, all customized to your unique needs over the course of four weeks (with a week for prep beforehand), TOTAL CLEANSE BOOTCAMP teaches you how to eat for life–at home and on-the-go.

In contrast to other real food programs, TOTAL CLEANSE BOOTCAMP’s protocol evolves over the course of the four weeks, including elimination and reintroduction features (some required, some optional) designed to recalibrate and optimize your waistline, biochemistry, gut, energy, hormones, and more. Learn more about TCB here .

And if you’re not on my list for FREE updates, be sure you sign up in the box below!

DISCLAIMER: This website, and the contents published herein, are intended for educational purposes only. They are not intended, nor should they be used in any way to replace sound consultation, diagnosis and treatment by a licensed medical practitioner. This website and its contents are not intended as, nor should they be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or prescriptions. Always consult a qualified licensed medical professional before making any dietary, supplement, exercise, or lifestyle changes. Read full disclaimer HERE.

Background of feature image: “Bread Slice” image copyright SOMMAI.
“Corn Flakes” image copyright rakratchada torsap.
“Grain Field Harvesting” image copyright njaj


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"In a world of nutrition and diet gimmicks, hype, misinformation, and downright hypocrisy, Erika Herman is more than a breath of fresh air, she is an entire oxygen tank."

Myth 8: Grains result in inflammation

Few people consider carbs are loaded with inflammation causing ingredients which in turn lead to practically every possible disease, but the research proves otherwise. A study published in Journal of Nutrition in 2010 found that women who ate more than one serving of whole grains were less likely to have moderate or elevated inflammation when compared to those who did not eat any.

You can add following nutritious carbs to nourish your body, ease painful inflammation and stop pain:

Here&rsquos the Catch&hellip You Have to Act FAST!

Not surprisingly&hellip this Ivy League Doctor has started to get harassed by the usual suspects:

The multi-billion-dollar &ldquofitness-industrial complex&rdquo&hellip

And even bought-and-paid for officials in agencies that should be looking out for you&hellip but who are more concerned with lining their pockets with corporate cash&hellip

He can only take so much of this&hellip so he&rsquos agreed to leave this video up for a very limited time&hellip and then it&rsquos going to come down for good:

P.S. &ndash I&rsquom going to be honest with you: I got really hungry writing this up. All that talk of being able to eat bread&hellip pasta&hellip pizza&hellip cakes&hellip I&rsquom seriously about to pig out and go on a big carb binge. But thanks to this Ivy League doctor&hellip I&rsquom going to do it 100% guilt-free! Click here now to get his secret & be able to eat your favorite carb-heavy foods without guilt too!

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This content is strictly the opinion of Fit Trim Happy and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Fit Trim Happy nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.


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