The Truth About Carbs (and Why You Need Them)

Learn why carbohydrates should be a part of your healthy diet.

The Truth About Carbs (and Why You Need Them)

By Toni Gasparis

With low-carb snacks and no-carb diets, figuring out whether you should be eating carbohydrates can be confusing. While many people view carbs as a negative and non-essential nutrient, they actually play a very integral part in the healthy functioning of your body. In fact, if we don’t get enough carbs in our system our body can look for fuel in other areas such as our muscles and it can even impact our liver. Dr. Oz’s trusted experts and nutritionists Maya Feller, Kristin Kirkpatrick, and Rachel Swanson are here to help explain what carbs are and why they’re important, as well as the types you should and should not be eating.


More: 10 Foods a Nutritionist Never Eats

How to Build a Meal

While your body needs carbs, it does not need them in excess. While you should eat carbs every day, Feller says you should make sure to stick to an average serving size of carbs at your meals which is roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Make sure to build your plate with the addition of lean protein and non-starchy veggies for a healthy meal. Additionally, Kirkpatrick recommends upgrading the kinds of carbs you eat by trying out carbs that are less digestible and therefore more effective at keeping you full and satisfied. She suggests trying out bean pasta instead of whole grain pasta and sprouted bread instead of whole grain bread.

More: How to Make a Perfect Dinner Plate

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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