Jena DeMoss: Carbs 101

Published 5:52 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

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Carbs can get a bad rap, but they are not the enemy.  Nutrient dense carbs are a great component of a balanced diet. Carbohydrates, also known as sugar, offer an immediate source of energy for your body. They provide the fuel for your muscles and organs to function normally. 

There are two general types of carbs. Simple carbs are fast-acting sugars and are easily digested by the body. They are found in white grains and pastas, some dairy foods, fruits including dried fruits, fruit juices, and processed foods including sweets like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, jellies and candy. Second, are complex carbohydrates! These slow-digesting carbs take longer to break down in our body. They are most commonly found in whole-grain breads and starches, beans and starchy vegetables that include corn, squash, peas and potatoes. Fiber is an important indigestible complex carb and it is recommend that men get 38 grams of fiber per day and women 25 grams.  

Carbs provide all cells in the entire body the necessary energy they need for daily tasks and physical activity. In an average healthy diet, you need about 45-65% of calories to come from carbohydrates. If you eat more than what you need, limited amounts of carbs get stored in the liver and muscle cells and are used when the body needs an extra burst of energy. The rest is converted to fat. If you eat fewer carbs than what you need you might experience fatigue, muscle cramps, poor mental function and headaches.

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Carbs are your body’s first choice for fuel. A low-carb diet may seem healthy and also assist in fast weight loss, but it mimics starvation. Healthy weight loss should be about 1-2 pounds lost per week.    

Aim to choose better-for-you carb choices like the following:

Whole-grain breads, whole-grain pastas, brown rice, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals. Whole grain should be the first stated ingredient. Catalina Crunch cereal is a great option with 0 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber, making it a better choice for stabilizing blood sugars.

Try milk, yogurt and other non-fat dairy options to get fewer calories along with your calcium and vitamin D. Add Fairlife yogurt to your shopping cart with 50% less sugar than the leading yogurt.

Beans and legumes are an excellent source of fiber! Mix black beans into your favorite salsa to bump up the nutritional value of your favorite taco topping. Peanuts are a legume and Good Measure bars are loaded with blood sugar friendly peanuts, making it a convenient snack option for on the go.

Starchy vegetables include corns, peas, squash and potatoes. These are loaded with vitamins and minerals to support your overall health.

Limit refined, sugary carbs like white flour, processed foods, fruit juice, soda and sweets like candy, cake, cookies and ice cream. When carbohydrates are eaten, the body breaks them down into glucose, or sugar, to be used as fuel for your body and brain. In order for your body to utilize the glucose, insulin is secreted. If too little or no insulin is available, glucose can build up in the blood resulting in high blood sugar.  

Treat yourself to dessert for breakfast! Enjoy this healthier, morning-time version of a banana split with chocolate oatmeal and yogurt, and even a cherry on top!  

Breakfast Banana Splits

Serves 2

All you need 

• 2/3 c. Hy-Vee quick oats

• 2/3 c. Fairlife 2% reduced-fat ultra-filtered chocolate milk

• 1 tbsp. Full Circle Market organic chia seed

• 2 ripe bananas, peeled and cut lengthwise in half

• ½ c. Fairlife vanilla ultra-filtered yogurt

• ½ c. Fairlife strawberry ultra-filtered yogurt

• Sweet cherries, for garnish

All you do

1. Stir together oats, chocolate milk and chia seed in a small container with a lid. Cover with lid and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight to allow mixture to thicken.

2. To serve, place banana halves, cut sides up, in 2 serving bowls. Spread oat mixture on bananas. Top each with 2 mounds of vanilla yogurt and 1 mound of strawberry yogurt, alternating yogurt flavors on the bananas. Garnish each with a cherry, chocolate chips and whipped topping, if desired.