Carbs: The Good, The Bad & The Nutritious
You’ve received your GenoPalate report.
Based on an analysis of your genes, it recommends you consume high amounts of carbohydrates (carbs) each day.
Now you’re really confused.
We’ve been told repeatedly that carbs are bad. That carbs are to blame for everything from belly fat to diabetes.
Now, a carb recommendation doesn’t mean it’s open season on bread and pasta. But it does mean that eating the right carbs, from the right sources, in the right amounts is important for your health.
Below is our “Carb 101” guide to help eliminate your carb confusion:
What are carbs?
Carbs include sugars, starches and fibers. They are one of the three nutrients that provide the body with energy.
All carbs, except fiber, break down and turn into sugar in the body. This might sound scary (and fattening) but the body needs sugar for energy.
Carbs are especially important for your brain and muscles. Your brain uses carbohydrates for energy and your muscles store carbs for energy.
Here’s a list to help you visualize carbs—beyond the bread basket:
- Sugars: Found in fruits, dairy, and sweets either naturally or as added sugars.
- Starches: Found in plant foods including starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn, seeds, whole grains and beans.
- Fibers: An indigestible component found naturally in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.
How do carbs affect the body?
When digested, carbs break down into glucose and provide the body with energy. In fact, glucose is the body's preferred fuel source. This is why carbs play a vital role in the way our bodies function.
However, the key is to focus on the types of carbs you’re eating.
Simple carbs like white flour, baked goods, sugary beverages, candy or chips will spike your blood sugar. This will give you a quick burst of energy, followed by a slump, and a craving for more carbs. This is not good for your body. This is the reaction you want to try to avoid.
To make matters worse, simple carbs do not typically provide the body with vitamins and minerals. In fact, a diet high in simple carbs can lead to belly fat, inflammation, high triglycerides and blood pressure, low HDL (the good cholesterol), low testosterone in men, and infertility in women.
On the other hand, complex carbs like fruits, vegetables and whole grains will have a slower release into your bloodstream. That means they won’t spike your blood sugar or insulin.
Complex carbs are also packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber. They can reduce your cancer risk, increase your body’s ability to detoxify, and keep your gut healthy.
Here’s a visual to help you compare carbs: There are carbs in a piece of cake and in a slice of white bread. There are also carbs in sweet potatoes and green beans.
How do I eat a high carb diet?
Depending on your genes, it may be time to get reacquainted with carbs!
Since many foods are high in carbs, there are unlimited ways to transform ingredients into high-carb meals. Grains, vegetables, beans, dairy and fruits are all good carbohydrate sources. Select one or two from your personalized food list and build a meal around them. (Check out our recipe box for kitchen inspiration!)
Or try adding a side serving of fruit, beans, low-fat cheese or veggies to your plate. This will help you get closer to your high-carb goal without focusing solely on grains.
Also, try snacking on foods that are higher in carbs. Carry fresh or dried fruit, or whole grain crackers with you for an easy, on-the-go snack.
And yes, pasta can be a good carb source. But we’re talking whole grain pasta tossed with veggies and lean protein such as shrimp or chicken.
How can I find out my carb level?
If you’re not sure if a high-carb (or low-carb) diet is best for your body, take GenoPalate’s nutrition DNA test. It’s just like the one you’d take to research your ancestry.
Once you’ve submitted your saliva sample using our DNA collection kit or uploaded your existing DNA data file from 23andMe or AncestryDNA, we can analyze your DNA. In doing this, we’ll find out how your body processes carbs, along with the other nutrients you’ll need for optimal health.
Based on your DNA results, we’ll create a customized nutrition profile for you. Your profile will include a detailed analysis of the type, amount and best sources for each nutrient, including carbs.
1. Harvard School of Public Health, Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar
2. Dr. Mark Hyman, The Truth About Low-Carb Diets
3. U.S. News & World Report, Complex vs. Simple vs. Refined Carbohydrates: What’s the Difference?
4. GenoPalate’s Team of Registered Dieticians