Carbohydrates have earned a poor image over the years. Diets like Atkins and South Beach support quick, easy weight loss, which can be very enticing to those trying to lose weight.

These diets say that you can turn your body into a fat-burning machine by minimizing the number of carbohydrates that you consume. However, if you avoid carbs, you deprive your body of primary fuel supply and many vital nutrients you need to stay healthy.

Your body must use fat and protein for energy if you do not get enough carbohydrates from your diet. This is why diets that are limited to carbs claim that they are perfect for weight reduction. Neither protein nor fat, though, are an efficient source of nutrition.

  • Fat digestion - When it is used as an energy source, fat does not digest fully. By-products called ketones are formed. Ketones have a slight acidity. In the blood, they can build up and make it more acidic. This may be harmful to the body over time.
  • Protein digestion - The primary role of protein is to be a building block, not a source of nutrition. The development of muscles and other cells may be damaged by using protein for energy.

Good Sources of Carbohydrates

Go straight to the fruit and avoid the fruit juice. Eat a selection of fruits and vegetables each day.

Refined sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, agave, honey, and white and brown sugar, should be restricted. In cakes, biscuits, and donuts, these are also included. They lack nutrients and have high-calorie content.

Pick whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat bread. Check the ingredient list to ensure that you are buying a whole-grain item. Look for "100% whole grain" in labels.

If you see the first ingredient listed as whole or whole grain, then the product is probably mostly whole grain, but there are also refined grains. The label won't tell you how much, so pick products on the ingredient list with the words 100% whole grain. Don't focus on the front of the food packet or its color!

How much is too much carbs?

Having carbohydrates in your diet is essential. But pay attention to portion size to prevent weight gain. Try to reduce to a quarter of your plate (about 1 cup) the amount of carbohydrates, be it tomatoes, peas, butternut squash, rice or pasta. Be aware of snacks containing sugars, such as chips, biscuits, crackers and donuts.

A big source of food and nutrients for our bodies is carbohydrates. Even when the goal is to lose weight, they should be part of a balanced diet. Pay attention to portion size when adding carbohydrates; pick whole fruits and make it a whole grain!