What Are Some Sources Of Carbohydrates In Your Diet

What Are The 5 Foods To Never Eat

What Are Carbohydrates ? What Is Carbohydrates?

Here are my top five:

  • Hot dogs. Processed meats in general are just one of the worst things you can put into your body.
  • Pretzels. Pretzels were the ultimate wolf in sheeps clothing type of food.
  • Diet soda. Just because something is calorie-free doesnt mean its chemical-free.
  • Processed pastries.

What You Will Learn

In this lesson, you will learn what carbohydrates are. You will also learn about the different types of sugars that form carbohydrates and the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. You will learn how much carbohydrates should be eaten in a day.In this lesson, you will learn the following:

  • The different types of dietary fiber and the benefits of each.
  • Medical problems that can result from too little dietary fiber.
  • Carbohydrate intake recommendations.

Healthy Sources Of Carbohydrates

You should choose carbohydrates that are high in nutrients if you want to gain the benefits of carbohydrates. Whole grains should account for at least half of your carbohydrate intake.

  • Whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables and legumes all contain carbohydrates. Whole grains are rich in fiber and can help you feel full for longer than refined grains.
  • Fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • Starchy vegetables such as corn, peas, carrots and potatoes are packed with nutrients and include important vitamins such as vitamin C.
  • Legumes also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, zinc and folate.
  • Vegetables, fruits and legumes are healthy carbohydrate-rich foods which can be part of a healthy diet

Eat plenty of nonstarchy vegetables, nuts and seeds and soy milk, plus tofu for a healthy diet. You can find nonstarchy vegetables in the produce section, nuts and seeds in the snack aisle, tofu in the dairy section and soy milk at your local supermarket.

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What Is The Difference Between Simple And Complex Carbohydrates

  • Simple carbs, also called refined carbs, are the villains of the carb family because they can cause blood sugar spikes and other negative effects on the body.
  • Complex carbs, on the other hand, offer a myriad of health benefits.

Table: Unhealthy carbs vs. complex carbs

Healthy carbs
  • Helps you feel full and maintain that feeling of fullness throughout the day.
  • Causes cravings and binges.
  • Sources of complex carbs, such as whole grains and fruits, are also rich in vitamin B complex, magnesium, potassium, and good fats.
  • Most refined carbs are stripped of various nutrients during processing.

Where Do We Find Carbohydrates In Foods

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Looking at the food groups represented in MyPlate below, which food groups do you think contain carbohydrates? If you answered, all of them, you’re correct! This section will review which food groups contain the different types of carbohydrates. One of the goals of this course is to learn more about the different nutrients in foods and to understand the importance of eating a wide variety of foods from the different food groups.

Figure 3.1 – Choose MyPlate graphic illustrating the USDA food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

Fruits– Fruits are sweet, so we know they must contain sugar. Fruits contain sucrose, glucose, and fructose. This sugar is naturally-occurring and comes packaged with other great nutrients, like Vitamin C and potassium. Whole fruit also contains fiber, since fiber is found in all whole plant foods. Juice has little to no fiber, even high pulp orange juice.

Vegetables– Some vegetables are sweet and also contain sugar, although much less than fruit. Similar to fruits, some vegetables contain small amounts of sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Starchy vegetables primarily contain starch but some are also sweet and contain sucrose, glucose, and fructose . Just like whole fruit, any whole vegetable also contains fiber.

Dairy– This is the one animal food that contains carbohydrate. Milk, cheese, and yogurt contain naturally-occurring lactose. If dairy is sweetened, then it will also contain added sugar like sucrose or fructose and glucose .

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Carbohydrates And The Nutrition Facts Labels

Carbohydrates are required on the nutrition facts label. It is listed first as total carbohydrate with the total amount of carbohydrates given in grams . The Daily Reference Value for total carbohydrate is 300 grams . Carbohydrates are then broken down into three types: dietary fiber, sugars and other carbohydrates. Other carbohydrates refers to complex carbohydrates or starches. Sugars are required on the nutrition label.Carbohydrate and Sugars Label ClaimsSugar Free Less than 0.5 g sugar/serving Reduced Sugar At least 25% less sugar than the regular productNo Added Sugars, Without Added Sugar, No Sugar Added

  • No amount of sugars, or any ingredient that contains sugars that functionally substitute for added sugars, is added during processing or packaging.
  • Contains no ingredients that contain added sugars, such as jam, jelly or concentrated fruit juice.
  • The label specifies that the food is not low-calorie or calorie-reduced as appropriate.
  • Monosaccharides and disaccharides are often referred to as simple sugars. Food labels sometimes lump all these sugars under that one category, listing them as sucrose and other sugars. The nutrition label on a food package does not list a Percent Daily Value for sugars. There is no scientific proof to indicate that a particular amount of sugars in the diet is appropriate or inappropriate. Other than dental caries or cavities, there is no evidence that sugar intake is associated with chronic disease conditions.

    Simple Vs Complex Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are classified as simple or complex, Smathers said. The difference between the two forms is the chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is absorbed and digested. Generally speaking, simple carbs are digested and absorbed more quickly and easily than complex carbs, according to the NIH.

    Simple carbohydrates contain just one or two sugars, such as fructose and galactose . These single sugars are called monosaccharides. Carbs with two sugars such as sucrose , lactose and maltose are called disaccharides, according to the NIH.

    Simple carbs are also in candy, soda and syrups. However, these foods are made with processed and refined sugars and do not have vitamins, minerals or fiber. They are called “empty calories” and can lead to weight gain, according to the NIH.

    Complex carbohydrates have three or more sugars. They are often referred to as starchy foods and include beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, potatoes, corn, parsnips, whole-grain breads and cereals.

    Smathers pointed out that, while all carbohydrates function as relatively quick energy sources, simple carbs cause bursts of energy much more quickly than complex carbs because of the quicker rate at which they are digested and absorbed. Simple carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels and sugar highs, while complex carbs provide more sustained energy.

    Smathers offered the following advice: “It’s best to focus on getting primarily complex carbs in your diet, including whole grains and vegetables.”

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    Carbs Are Not Essential But Many Carb

    Many people following a low carb diet claim that carbs are not an essential nutrient.

    This may be true to an extent, but theyre a critical component of a balanced diet.

    Some believe that the brain doesnt need the recommended 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. While some areas of the brain can use ketones, the brain relies on carbohydrates to provide its fuel (.

    Furthermore, the nutrition carb-containing foods, such as vegetables and fruits, provide offer a variety of health benefits.

    Although its possible to survive even on a zero-carb diet, its probably not an optimal choice because youre missing out on plant foods that science has shown to be beneficial. Additionally, that extremely restrictive diet shouldnt be something that is embarked upon without speaking with your doctor.


    Carbohydrates are not an essential nutrient.

    However, many carb-rich plant foods are loaded with beneficial nutrients, so avoiding them may not leave you feeling your best.

    Sweets And Added Sugar

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    Eating candy and desserts markedly boosts the number of carbohydrates in your diet. Indulging in a 1.6-ounce milk chocolate bar adds more than 26 grams of carbohydrates to your daily intake a slice of cherry pie adds approximately 47 to 69 grams.

    Sugar added to processed foods that you may not consider sweet can be an unrecognized source of carbohydrates in your diet. Commercial pasta sauces, salad dressings, sandwich bread, energy and nutrition bars, cereals, heat-and-eat meals and other convenience foods commonly contain high-fructose corn syrup or another form of sugar for added flavor. Opting for whole, fresh foods rather than processed foods helps you avoid hidden carbohydrates.


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    Recommendations For Carbohydrate And Fiber Intake

    Of total caloric intake, 45% – 65% should come from carbohydrates. The exact intake in grams will vary, depending on the caloric level of an individual. The Estimated Average Requirement for carbohydrate is 130 grams per day for adults and children based on the glucose needs of the brain. The Adequate Intake for fiber is 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed .

    What counts as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Grain Group?1 slice of bread

    Starchy Foods And Carbohydrates

    Starchy foods are our main source of carbohydrate and have an important role in a healthy diet.

    Starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals should make up just over a third of the food you eat, as shown by the Eatwell Guide.

    Where you can, choose wholegrain varieties, and eat potatoes with their skin on for more fibre.

    We should eat some starchy foods every day as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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    Complex Carbs Vs Simple Carbs

    A carbohydrate’s label of “complex” or “simple” is a scientific term that refers to its chemical structure, but it also indicates how quickly the carbohydrate is digested and its sugar absorbed into your bloodstream. It’s not always easy to figure out which carbohydrates are simple and which are complex.

    The types of “bad” simple carbohydrates that you want to avoid include raw sugar in items such as soda, baked goods or sugary breakfast cereals, as well as high-fructose corn syrupâwhich is often added to processed goodsâand fruit juice concentrates.

    Complex carbohydrates are typically higher in fiber, an indigestible carbohydrate that lessens the carb’s impact on your blood sugar. “Good” complex carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes and starchy vegetables.

    Low Carb Diet Conundrum

    Are Carbohydrates Important in Your Diet?

    No discussion about carbs is complete without mentioning low carb diets.

    These types of diets restrict carbohydrates while allowing plenty of protein and fat.

    Though there are studies that indicate that low carb diets can help you lose weight, research tends to focus on those who have obesity, metabolic syndrome, and/or type 2 diabetes.

    Some of these studies show that low carb diets can promote weight loss and lead to improvements in various health markers, including HDL good cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and others when compared with the standard low fat diet .

    However, a review of more than 1,000 studies found that while there were positive outcomes with low carb diets less than and at 611 months, there wasnt a significant effect on cardiovascular risk factors after 2 years .

    Additionally, a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 19992010 that analyzed low carb diets and the risk of death found that those who ate the least amount of carbs tended to die prematurely from any cause, including stroke, cancer, and coronary heart disease .


    Just because low carb diets can be useful for weight loss for some individuals, theyre not the answer for everyone.

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    Whats The Difference Between Simple And Complex Carbohydrates

    A foods chemical structure, and how quickly your body digests it, determine whether the food is a complex or simple carb. Complex carbs are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar. They also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs.

    Too many simple carbs can contribute to weight gain. They can also increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.

    Choosing The Best Carbs

    According to Harvard Medical School, it is the quality of the carbohydrates you ingest that contributes to a healthy diet. For instance, low-quality carbs are quickly digested, often leading to blood sugar spikes and only a temporary feeling of fullness. The fiber and nutrients found in whole foods can offset the glucose conversion of starches and sugars, preventing drastic energy spikes and satiating the appetite.

    In the Dietary Guidelines 20202025, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends shifting to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy to increase consumption of calcium and dietary fiber. The guidelines also recommend shifting away from added sugars in drinks, snacks, and sweets. Try to limit your sugar intake to less than 10% of daily calories. Some expert sources, such as the American Heart Association, recommend an even lower limit of 6%.

    To improve the quality of carbs in your diet, choose more whole grains and limit foods that have added sugars. Cooking food from scratch at home and eating primarily whole foods, rather than processed ones, can help significantly.

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    Not All Carbs Are Created Equal

    Food contains three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starches and fiber. Carbohydrates are either called simple or complex, depending on the foods chemical structure and how quickly the sugar is digested and absorbed. The type of carbohydrates that you eat makes a difference Foods that contain high amounts of simple sugars, especially fructose raise triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are an important barometer of metabolic health high levels may be associated with coronary heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver.

    What Are Carbohydrates Exactly

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    There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If you want to get scientific, a carb refers to a particular molecular structure. It is a string of carbons with a water molecule attached to each of them, says David Katz, MD, MPH, founder and president of the TrueHealth Initiative in Chesterfield, Missouri, and author of The Truth About Food. And thats all it says. This particular structure is found in everything from lentils to lollypops, he adds.

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    The Healthy Eating Hub

    This article was written by an Accredited Practicing Dietitian from The Healthy Eating Hub. The Healthy Eating Hub is a team of university-qualified nutritionists and dietitians who are passionate about helping people develop long term healthy eating habits through offering evidence-based and practical nutrition advice that people can put into practice straight away.

    Dietary Sources Of Carbohydrates

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    Carbohydrates account for more than 50 percent of the calories in the average American diet, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most dietary carbohydrates come from plants. Sugars and starches are nutritive carbohydrates, meaning they are broken down and utilized by the body, primarily to generate energy. Although dietary fiber is also a carbohydrate, it contributes no calories because it is not digested or absorbed.

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    How To Make The Right Choices

    As a general rule, carbohydrates in their natural, fiber-rich form are healthy, while those stripped of their fiber are not.

    If its a whole, single-ingredient food, then its probably a healthy food for most people, no matter what the carbohydrate content is.

    Instead of thinking of carbs as either good or bad, focus on increasing whole and complex options over those that are heavily processed. It is better to focus on what you are gaining instead of what it feels like you may be giving up.

    Things are rarely ever black and white in nutrition. But the following foods are a better source of carbs.

    • Vegetables. All of them. Its best to eat a variety of vegetables every day.
    • Tubers. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.

    These foods may be acceptable in moderation for some people, but many will do best by limiting them as much as possible.


    Carbs in their natural, fiber-rich form are generally healthy.

    Processed foods with sugar and refined carbs dont provide the same nutritional benefits as carbs in their natural form and are more likely to lead to negative health outcomes.

    Starchy Foods And Fibre

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    Wholegrain varieties of starchy foods and potatoes are good sources of fibre.

    Fibre is the name given to a range of substances found in the cell walls of vegetables, fruits, pulses and cereal grains.

    Fibre that cannot be digested helps other food and waste products to move through the gut.

    Potato skins, wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals, brown rice, and wholewheat pasta are all good sources of this kind of fibre.

    Fibre can help keep your bowels healthy and can help you feel full, which means you’re less likely to eat too much.

    This makes wholegrain starchy foods and potatoes eaten with their skin on a particularly good choice if you’re trying to lose weight.

    Some types of fibre found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, potatoes and in oats and pulses can be partly digested and may help reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

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    Is It Better To Be On A High

    Unless your doctor tells you to go on a low- or high-carb diet, the healthiest diet doesnt actually count carbohydrates and it doesnt aim to stay under a certain number, says Katz. There are so many ways to go bad when focusing on one nutrient. Lets talk about foods instead of macronutrients, he says. Your aim should be to eat the right foods rather than count grams of carbs.

    Katz advises eating wholesome foods in a sensible, balanced combination and appropriate portions. He recommends filling your plate with minimally processed vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and plain water for thirst. Add in some eggs, fish, and seafood, and meat like poultry on occasion if desired. If you want to eat dairy, do so in moderation. A sprinkle of cheese on top of a meal here or there wont hurt you, but know that its a major source of saturated fat, which may be harmful to your heart if you overdo it.

    That said, some people may want to follow a low-carb or moderate-carb diet, says Farrell Allen. That includes people with prediabetes and diabetes. If you take insulin to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may be advised by your doctor to count carbohydrate grams to help manage blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, be sure to speak with your healthcare team before making changes to your diet, as theyll want to make sure your carbohydrate level and medication are appropriately balanced.

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