BistroMD Health Library

Get excited about reading again with fun and interesting tips from our experts, including The M.D., our dietitians, and our fitness expert. In our health library, you will find all of the information you need to achieve your goals of making a healthy lifestyle change. So, start reading and start losing!


Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

A Carbohydrate Diet: Not What You Think

Individuals tend to misjudge carbohydrates with its intake leading to weight gain. But what people don't know is that carbohydrates are much more than the sugar found in sweet treats and pasties. So how can you create a healthy low-carb diet? We'll show you!

A Carbohydrate Diet: Not What You Think

A low-carb diet became popularized in hopes to shed weight and keep it off once and for all. Unfortunately, though, individuals tend to misperceive carbohydrates as unidirectional, with its intake contributing to weight gain. But what people generally leave unrecognized is the fact carbohydrates are much more than the sugar found in sweet treats and pasties. So what exactly are carbohydrates and what entails a healthy low-carb diet? It is probably not what you think!

What Are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrate is one of the three core macronutrients along with protein and fat. Despite the source, each macronutrient is responsible for supplying the body with energy, also known as those infamous calories. Carbohydrates, though, are generally the body's primary energy source and quickly utilized by the brain and muscles. If carbs are not used for immediate use, they are stored in the muscles or liver during periods of starvation or contribute to weight gain.

Carbs are also further broken down into "simple" and "complex" and offer varying modes of digestion and absorption related to their chemical structure. Simple carbs contain one (monosaccharide) or two (disaccharide) sugar molecule(s) and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Simple sugars are found mostly in candies and soft drinks but can also be found in nutritious produce sources and dairy products. Complex carbs (polysaccharides or starches) are generally digested and absorbed more slowly than simple carbs. Whole grains, beans and legumes, and starchy vegetables are complex carb sources. The gentle absorption helps to keep blood sugar levels sustained and consistent, whereas simple carbs transfer quick energy that spikes blood sugars.

Despite the technicalities of carbohydrates, the American population is eating too much of them. Specifically, 60 percent of carbohydrate intake is from simple sugars! The excessive intake can not only be addictive, but contribute to weight gain with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

A Healthy Low-Carb Diet

So when it comes to a carbohydrates diet, it is ultimately limiting emptying empty calories from simple sugars and embracing nutrient-dense and fiber-rich carbohydrate sources. Healthy carbs include:

Whole Grains and Associated Products: wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, millet, rye, barley along with whole-grain breads, cereals and flours

Beans and Legumes: lentils, soybeans, peanuts, chickpeas, beans including black, kidney and pinto

Fiber-Rich Fruits: bananas, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fruits with the skin such as apples and pears

Starchy Vegetables: carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, corn, squash, and zucchini

Fiber-Rich Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, onions, brussels sprouts, peppers, tomatoes and green, leafy veggies such as kale, spinach and lettuce

Additionally, the intake of these healthy carbs should be paired with lean proteins and healthy fats to keep the diet well-balanced. bistroMD knows how to do just that! Each carefully crafted meal contains 1,100-1,400 calories daily with 40-50% total caloric intake from lean, adequate protein, 20-25% of calories from healthy fats, and 30-35% from complex carbohydrates. For more information and meal options, check out the official bistroMD page or their newest extensions for a la carte meals and senior meal options!

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