Ah, carbs – the foundation of almost everything delicious in the world. From thick-crust pizza to creamy macaroni and cheese to fluffy, fresh-baked donuts, carbs can be pretty hard to resist. But if you’re trying to avoid them, here’s the good news: you don’t have to completely cut carbs to stay healthy or lose weight; you just have to know which ones to eat and which ones to avoid.
Back in the high school days, pasta dinners were a staple before any big game. There was no better feeling than heading back to a teammate’s house after practice to indulge in penne vodka, garlic bread and ravioli that we thought would give our bodies the energy it needed to play well the next day. But does all that white pasta have the benefits we think it does? And if so, then why do people bother to eat whole wheat?
Let’s start with the main difference: according to Livestrong.com, whole-wheat foods made up of complex carbs, which contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. White food are made up of simple carbs, which contain fewer nutrients because of the way they are processed. Simple carbs can be found in foods and drinks such as table sugar, soda, candy and fruits (good news about fruits: they contain fiber and protein along with a slew of other nutrients, which makes those simple carbs perform similarly to complex carbs).
What does this mean? Basically, when carbs are processed, they are stripped of their main components, creating a white carb that lacks the nutrients of whole grain carbs. These simple carbs create a spike in blood sugar levels that gives us a burst of energy for a short period of time.According to WebMD, the processing of these carbs also strips away fiber that is essential to our diets. On the other hand, whole grain carbs break down slowly in the body to release that energy over time, allowing it to be stored for times when we actually need it.
So here’s the deal: Complex carbs, meaning good carbs, come from plant-based foods such as vegetables, beans and whole grains. Whole grains provide nutrients essential to our bodies, while processed grains such as white breads and white pastas are stripped of their benefits before entering our mouths. Here’s my advice: If you’re gearing up for a big game or trying to feed your body proper fiber and other nutrients (say, before a workout), stick to whole-wheat pastas, breads and flour. If you’re looking for more of a traditional pasta flavor and don’t mind indulging a bit, go for the white pasta.