Fact or fiction? Carbs are bad for you – Diet myths debunked

This is third in the series of six myths that Shelley Rael and I talked about in Philadelphia at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo in October. To watch the video click here or scroll to the bottom of the post.

Diet myth #3 with Shelley – Fact or fiction? Carbs are bad for you

The term "natural" is applied to man...

Neily:This is Neily on Nutrition!  I’m with Shelley Rael, a private practice dietitian from Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’re talking about diet myth number 3. And that is…?
Shelley:That carbs are fattening.
Shelley:People say they cut out carbs because carbs make them fat. I tell people all the time nutrition is not black and white. There are many things that are involved. By themselves, carbohydrates are not fattening; they are not higher in calories than other foods. Per gram they’re actually lower in calories compared to fat.What happens is that people say I cut out carbs, I lost a lot of weight and well, you know they cut out the sugar, the candy, the sodas, the refined carbohydrates. The plant-based carbohydrates—the fruits and vegetables—are not the carbs that are making people fat. If you have five oranges you wouldn’t be fat.The other thing I tell people is that when you cut out the carbs, you’re losing a lot of water. Carbs and water are best friends, “BFFs”. So when the carbs are gone, you lose a lot of water. But as soon as you have a piece of toast, all that water comes back and the weight fluctuates.So, on one hand yes, cutting out carbs can help you lose weight but that will happen with any food that you cut off altogether.
Neily:Yes, it comes down to the calories.
Shelley:Right, and it’s also the quality of the carbohydrates. Again calories are calories, but when you are having good calories, the healthier calories so to speak whether they are carbs or fat or protein, it’s going to be healthier and better than having the refined, processed junk which tend to be carbs.Sugar sugar
Neily:All carbohydrates are plant-based foods—the fruits, the vegetables, the whole grains—and then you’ve got your refined carbohydrates. American Heart Association has the recommendation for six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. That’s what 24 and 36 grams (respectively).Also one of the things people are quick to look at is the sugar on the label. Just because it has sugar (doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it). Something might be a yogurt and it has sugar in it but that’s from the lactose from the milk… I get that a lot.
Shelley:I get that a lot too. I help people learn that the label where it says sugars does not distinguish between added and naturally occurring sugars. So I tell them, look at the ingredient list and if it’s sugar or corn syrup or pure cane syrup or honey or molasses or any of those many aliases of added sugar. There is still no way to know how many grams of sugar are added or naturally   occurring but the lower that sugar is on the list of ingredient list—or not there at all—the better that’s going to be.That’s the frustrating part with the labels.
Neily:That’s why people come to see registered dietitians to learn these things!
Shelley:Exactly. We can teach them.
Neily:Right. Thank you Shelley. Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video!



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