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Confused about Carbohydrates?

You are not alone-- many people wonder whether a low-carbohydrate diet will help them lose weight.


Currently, there is a lack of proof that following a low-carbohydrate diet will result in long-term weight management. Most health experts agree that weight control comes from balancing the number of calories eaten with the number of calories burned through physical activity.


However, the type of carbohydrate you eat can affect your health. It is recommended that you use foods containing unprocessed carbohydrates because they contain more fiber, which may help regulate blood sugars, lower cholesterol levels, and control appetite. Foods containing unprocessed carbohydrates also have more vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which are essential for better health. Studies indicate that people whose diets are primarily unprocessed carbohydrates have a low incidence of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. It is best to limit or avoid foods containing processed carbohydrates because they provide calories, but they have little fiber and fewer nutritional benefits. 


The current epidemic obesity levels in the U.S. appear to be related to eating more processed carbohydrates and fats-- not from eating unprocessed carbohydrates. The average American today eats 30 pounds more sugar, 35 pounds more white flour, 20 pounds more meat, 14 pounds more cheese, and 12 pounds more fat per year than was typical 30 years ago, according to the USDA. The extra calories from these foods, along with a lack of physical activity, have piled extra fat on many of our bodies.


Carbohydrates are necessary for your brain to function and also provide energy for your muscles. We recommended that you get 45 to 60 percent of your total calories from carbohydrates-- for 1200 to 1800 calories, that would be about 135 to 270 grams of carbohydrates daily. To allow room for eating more nutritious foods, limit sugars and other processed carbohydrates to less than 25 percent of your total carbohydrate grams. Instead, choose unprocessed carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. It is essential to focus on healthy food choices within your calorie needs and practice regular physical activity for healthy weight and fitness.


Unprocessed Carbohydrates - Preferred 


Legumes- dried beans, split peas, lentils, soy

All vegetables

All fresh fruits

Whole grains (amaranth, barley, brown rice [including instant version], buckwheat [Kasha], bulgur, corn, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rye, whole wheat)

Pasta, whole grain preferred

100 percent whole wheat bread, rolls

100 percent whole wheat or rye crackers

Whole grain cereals


 How to Increase Fiber in Your Diet and Focus on Fiber ideas


Processed Carbohydrates - Limit or avoid



Soft drinks and other sweetened beverages


Cookies, cakes, pies, donuts, sweet rolls

Honey, molasses, syrup

Ice cream

Highly sweetened cereals

White bread, white rolls

Pancakes or waffles made with white flour

Bagels or crackers made with white flour

Chips, pretzels

© 2004, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Education Services, Cultivating Health™ Weight Management Kit

             Copyright © 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!