Newsflash, carbs and sugar are NOT the same thing.
They both contain carbs, yes, but their outcome on your body is quite different.
In light of the carb craze (as in “low carb” everything) I was thinking this morning about the importance of CARBS in our bodies, and my recent experience with adding them back into my life (re: carbs, not sugar) and what they’ve done for me. So here we go.
Carbs vs Sugar
Foods that contain carbohydrates often contain really key healthful benefits:
- gut bacteria health- fiber is KEY for the health of the bacteria that lives in your gut. Without enough fiber, these babies won’t thrive.
- energy production – our bodies work really well to easily produce energy for existence from carbs; we can make it from protein and fat, but I like to call it “expensive” and can often signal to our bodies that we’re in some kind of famine mode- that can raise stress hormones and get in the way of energy/ weight loss and more.
- weight loss – yep, you read it here, not getting enough carbs can actually INCREASE your stress hormones- that can actually make you gain weight
- sleep – because they’re key for hormone balance (read above) – that includes sleep hormones too. Carbohydrates help the body to absorb tryptophan (see below for more here)- which is key for the production of sleep hormones like serotonin. Research suggests that eating something carbs 4-5 hours before sleep can help with promoting healthful sleep as well.
- weight loss/muscle mass – if you’re eating just protein after you workout you may be doing yourself a dis-service. In fact, carbs are really necessary to help the muscle absorb protein and get the amino acids found in protein INTO the muscle tissue (also why your body is more able to make sleep hormones when you get enough carbs).
But what’s the difference between carbs and sugar?
There’s a BIG one! Carbohydrate-rich foods (read: those with fiber) also contain other key nutrients like minerals, b vitamins, some protein, whereas unless you’re lucky enough to pick sugar-containing foods that also contain nutrients (i.e. honey and maple syrup)- you’re not getting a whole lot. Also, you’ll notice that carby-rich foods aren’t always sweet (or actually often are not sweet), whereas sugary foods are sweet. When we eat sweet on a consistent basis it can make us crave more sweet.
OK so which carbs to include?
I stick with gluten free carbs foods- rice, oats, buckwheat- mostly. And of course- the BEST forms of carbs- vegetables and starchy vegetables (sweet potato, potato, carrots, squashes)- they contain the most healthful nutrients.
Just a quick Monday post to remind you that carbs aren’t the enemy, eat up!