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Bad Carbs? Good Carbs? Get the 101

5 Quick Tips to Finally Understand Carbs

By Pam Nisevich Bede, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
ZonePerfect Nutritionist

December 2019

1 The vast majority of us want and need carbs

We thrive on this energy source and benefit from the foods that naturally provide it, though crackers and candy need not apply. Our health, wellness, weight, and performance goals should determine the type of carbs consumed, the amount, and when those foods are enjoyed. If you’re following a macros-based lifestyle, discover your ideal macros ratio with our Macros Calculator. and let’s explore the range of carbs, (and protein and fat) needed to fill up the tank without feeling run down!

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2 Some sources of carbs are better than others.

When you consider carbs, think more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and dairy which contain nutrients you need, and less refined grains, simple sugars, junk, dessert, and candy which offer calories but few, if any, nutrients. In other words, take into account other benefits a food has to offer. Cut out empty-calorie carbs but keep the ones that supply essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and more.

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3 Your carb intake should be based on your daily activities

Carb fuels activity so if you don’t find yourself sweating most days of the week, you may not need tons of carb since the task at hand doesn’t demand this quick-burning fuel. It may be fine for you to cut back entirely or swap some carbs with protein or fat, depending on your goals. When cutting calories, it often makes sense to cut carbs, a source of energy, rather than protein, which plays a host of indispensable roles in the body, or fat, which offers protection as well as pleasant-tasting foods, and assisting with the absorption of nutrients.

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4 Carbs matter when counting macros

Some individuals thrive on ketogenic diets (5% of calories from carbohydrate) or low carb (more than 5% but less than 40% of calories from carb) while others feel better when following a pretty even intake of all nutrients like 40/30/30 (40% of calories from carb, 30% from protein and 30% from fat). Think the macros approaches could be for you? Find the right lifestyle for your unique needs with our Macros Lifestyle Quiz Finder,

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5 Key Carb Takeaways

Carbs are the easiest form of calories for your body to convert to energy, but they aren’t as satiating as protein or as nourishing as fat. You can eat whole lotta carbs in no time at all, giving fuel to the rumor that carbs make you fat. But it’s not carbs alone that cause the struggle between you and your skinny jeans. That battle is more complex: involving energy in vs. energy out, genetics, our choices, emotions, and so much more.

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